Adriano Moraes defends his ONE Championship flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson on Wednesday, April 7th at ONE on TNT 1. This is a hugely consequential collision at 125 pounds emanates from Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Moraes is not only the inaugural ONE flyweight champion but he holds a record 3 reigns with the gold. Conversely, Johnson is coming off of winning the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix and is regarded by many as the greatest fighter the division has seen throughout MMA history.
Below are several excerpts from my conversation with the most decorated flyweight titlist in ONE Championship history as Adriano Moraes looks to shear the GOAT.
Getting in work at ATT
“I’m pushing my MMA game here at American Top Team. We’ve become the best team in the world…Good teammates over here. A lot of fighters that inspire me and push me every day to do my best in my fights.”
Kyoji Horiguchi as a training partner and the localized experience he has fighting Mighty Mouse
“Kyoji is a really good guy. He gave me his thoughts about this match. So I’m going to take everything that I have. The good information to try to put on my plan. To have my hand high.”
The perceptions of some heading into this title clash
“I’m happy about my run in ONE Championship. I don’t know why the people try to keep giving attention to UFC. So, I’m happy Demetrious Johnson has come over and I’m ready to fight against him. And I’m grateful for this opportunity of course. But I don’t know why everybody giving their attention to the UFC and the UFC fighters. A lot of killers inside the UFC but you can have a beautiful life outside the UFC also.”
“I like the way Demetrious Johnson moves. I think he’s happy now in ONE Championship. We’re receiving a lot of attention. They’ve tried to put him all the time on the high level. They’ve tried to put him to be the face of ONE Championship. I don’t know why but they want to do. So I think he’s happy.”
Moraes vs Mighty Mouse
The perception that ONE Championship is trying to make Demetrious the face of the division
“Man, of course. But it’s not for me to say. It’s all what the people say to me. I don’t worry about it. Don’t care. I guess I go in there, do my work, get some money. And keep my life up.”
What he has learned from doing tape study on Mighty Mouse
“Yeah, I’m thinking he’s gonna do the same thing he does in his fights. Try to mix up everything and try to push me to get tired. We’re gonna do some kicks and punches. Try to grapple me. And I’m thinking he’ll try to put this fight as long as possible… And try to get like points. I don’t think he has the Jiu-Jitsu to combat me or the striking. So I think he’s gonna move a lot in the fight like try to do some transitions in MMA. Try to win by points.”
Learning Jiu-Jitsu in his youth to get out of gang life
“When I was a teenager, I had some trouble in my life. I had some wrong choice. Being a gang member at that time, I wanted to do what I needed to do. Protect myself and try to fight hard. That feeling was always inside of me. I always like to fight. Since I was a kid…I became professional then I kept fighting. Now in the correct way of life. So I think everything has helped me to be the man I am today. I’m happy for this…The man I evolved to be today.”
Adriano Moraes vs Demetrious Johnson
The mutual growth with him as well as ONE Championship since his ONE debut in November 2013
“I remember when I made my pro-MMA debut in ONE Championship. Was 9 and 0. I became Shooto champion and I signed the contract with ONE Championship. Had my first opportunity to show my greatness inside the ONE Circle. It was tough because I lost by split decision that first one. But I did good at the bantamweight division. So then I dropped the weight and I went to the flyweight.”
“It was a new division in ONE Championship. Like the next year forward, I became the first ONE flyweight world change in the history of ONE. Then lost the belt by split decision again. Then I became the champion because it was a mistake from the judges. They gave me the rematch.”
“So I was happy because I know what happened. Take a mistake and turn it around. It’s really good. I remember I felt really good to grab that belt again. Then they had a mistake… and they gave my belt to him (Geje Eustaquio) by split decision again. Again, it repeated and I became a champion again. I’m truly happy for my career.”
Karate additions and making ONE Championship history
Some newer touches that Adriano Moraes has added to his Jiu-Jitsu minded base
“So my game is not changing. It’s my Jiu-Jitsu. My Jiu-Jitsu I work every day when I train. When I came to American Top Team, I learned something special. My master Conan Silveira changed my mind. I put some karate moves. Think karate changed a little bit my mind about mixed martial arts. I use my talent. My talent frustrates. I try to mix it up everything. Same street fighter, same street moves, I grew up in the streets.”
The history-making trilogy with Geje Eustaquio where he captured his third ONE belt
“Winning that fight was a big moment. But my second match against Eustaquio was completely wrong judges’ decision. If you watch the fight and see. I sat back on that loss like a man. Knew I did make some difference in my camp. Just was thankful to have the chance to come back and fight for the belt again.”
ONE on TNT 1
Headlining ONE’s inaugural broadcast on TNT
“Yes, I’m happy. I think ONE Championship deserves it. To be live on a big brand, a big channel like TNT. And I think you just want to put more emotion in the Wednesday fight nights after the new wrestling. So the people around, the public who are going to gain, are going to be ready April 7th to give them my best.”
Moraes’ thoughts on my characterization this is one of the biggest flyweight bouts in MMA history
“Yes, I believe this is the flyweight fight. The most waiting in the world… I’m so grateful the universe is bringing DJ to me. Because for me I think it would be impossible to go to the UFC and fight against him. So I’m so happy and thankful to this fight. So yes, this is the fight to happen. The most waiting flyweight fight in the world. Bro, I’m so happy.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.