If you talked to Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada, you might not realize he is set to face the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in history.
A place in the final of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix – which will take place in his native Japan in October – is on the line in Manila, Philippines, as well as the chance to become a global superstar by beating an all-time great.
Japanese superstar Tatsumitsu Wada punches his ticket into the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinals with a unanimous decision win over Gustavo Balart!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 12, 2019
It is a match that would get some athletes fired up, and others might be nervous, but Wada is completely relaxed.
“This is actually the least pressure I’ve felt in the past few years,” he says.
“I’ve had fights in the past that I couldn’t lose, but, I think the only thing you can do is train, and go into the fight with a positive mindset.”
The 30-year-old from Tokyo is coming off his win in the quarterfinals – also at the Mall Of Asia Arena – against Gustavo Balart.
Wada admits that he was not completely satisfied with the way he performed, but the fact that he earned a unanimous decision was the most important thing because that meant he could move forward and face Johnson.
As a 12-time flyweight mixed martial arts World Champion, “Mighty Mouse’s” dominance is unmatched in his sport, so his upcoming opponent is delighted to have the chance to test his skills against him.
“As everyone knows, Demetrious Johnson’s striking and grappling is the best of the best,” says “The Sweeper.”
“While he is a legend, he’s still in the prime of his career, and so in that sense, for me, he is someone I’d like to challenge myself against and see what I’m capable of. I’m looking forward to learning what mixed martial arts is all about from him.
“World Grand Prix aside, I would be satisfied if I beat Demetrious Johnson. That’s my ultimate goal. After that, I’d focus on my next fight.
“World Title matches are important to me. Of course, I’m participating in ONE because a part of me wants to become World Champion, but I feel there is more value in defeating Demetrious Johnson.”
The American athlete made it through the first phase of the tournament bracket with a superb submission of Yuya Wakamatsu.
However, there were a few moments in that contest that showed Johnson is far from invincible, and though Wada admits the 32-year-old’s skills are better than his, he has some holes in his game that can be exploited.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, June 19, 2019
“I don’t want to say in too much detail, but I believe he is better than me in physical ability and technique,” he explains.
“With that being said, I also believe there are certain aspects where we match up. Yes, he does have a weakness, but I definitely don’t want to say what it is. It’s top secret.”
There is no doubt that “The Sweeper” is a talented all-round mixed martial arts athlete, but he has been most impressive when he has shown off his grappling so far on the global stage.
However, he has a size and reach advantage over many of the athletes in his weight class – he used to complete at bantamweight – and he has worked hard on his striking throughout 2019. In his last match, he was particularly effective when he used his range and countered with boxing as his opponent stepped toward him.
Though he may not want to give away the details of his game plan, he has no problem predicting how he might get his hand raised.
“If I were to win, I think it would only be by TKO, so that’s what I’m betting on,” he adds.
Manila | 2 August | 7PM | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes19