Although he knows he’ll be facing the toughest test of his career, ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes believes he has the tools needed to beat former UFC 125-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
“Johnson is a high-level athlete,” Moraes told MMA Junkie. “It’s hard to find any holes at all in his game. He’s super dynamic, with infinite stamina. He’s knowledgeable everywhere. His transitions are some of the best in MMA. He’s on the same level as Jon Jones. But I’m standing in his way now, and I’m happy to face him, and I believe I’m as complete a fighter as he is. I believe that by using my elbows, knees, takedown defense, and my jiu-jitsu, I’ll stay a step ahead of him and will be able to be the night’s winner.”
The two were originally supposed to square off in April 2020, but the bout was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Moraes will defend his title against Johnson in the main event of “ONE on TNT I” on April 7.
The event will air live on TNT in the United States.
Johnson, who reigned for years as the UFC’s flyweight champion, is considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Now 34 years old, “Mighty Mouse” made his ONE debut in 2019 and entered the promotion’s Flyweight Grand Prix. After winning three-straight fights over Yuya Wakamatsu, Tatsumitsu Wada, and Danny Kingkad, Johnson was named the Grand Prix winner, which earned him a shot at Moraes.
The 31-year-old Moraes, meanwhile, has won five of his previous six bouts. In 2018, he lost his title via split-decision to Geje Eustaquio, but he recaptured it in January 2019 when the pair rematched. Despite his recent success, he hasn’t competed since that night, although that wasn’t his choice.
“It’s been over two years since I’ve been inside the ONE Championship cage,” Moraes said. “Due to some personal issues, the pandemic, and the flyweight tournament, I had no choice but to wait. Regardless, I’m very happy to have recaptured the belt, which, as I see it, should have never been taken from me. Now that the UFC’s biggest flyweight star is part of ONE, it brings a lot more attention to us.”
Now back to competing, the Brazilian champion is excited by the challenge Johnson presents and feels as if it’s one he needs to take his career to the next level.
“It’s also a big challenge for me. Johnson is a legend. He’s very good in every area. He made history in the UFC and in the MMA world at large. He’s one of the best fighters in the world. I’m truly excited and looking forward to facing him. I’m very thankful that he joined us. It’s possible I could have gone to the UFC, otherwise. I’m very thankful. He’s the kind of opponent I need to make my name on the international scene.”
Who wins when Adriano Moraes meets Demetrious Johnson?
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.