ONE on TNT 1 Media Day featured Demetrious Johnson, Iuri Lapicus, Raimond Magomedaliev, and Oumar Kane ahead of the promotion’s ballyhooed TNT debut. The card broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, April 7th (Thursday, April 8th in Asia).
I spoke with Mighty Mouse before his flyweight title bid against ONE’s most accomplished 125-pounder Adriano Moraes. Below are excerpts from that ONE on TNT 1 Media interaction.
There was a recent post I was seeing on ONE Championship social media. You likened your Grand Prix title to being the crown jewel of your career.
Kind of curious if you get the ideal outcome here and win the lineal ONE Championship, do you think that will supersede that in any kind of way? Or is it your appreciation of Grand Prix tradition that will always kind of position that as the capstone achievement?
“It’s the appreciation of Grand Prix achievement. Like I said in that interview when I did it, I’m being straight up. I watched more Grand Prix’s growing up as a kid. When I was in college, I never forget coming home and just popping in DVD players. Watching Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett. Just seeing those guys go through…Even when I was working and I wasn’t a professional athlete yet, I remember watching Bibiano Fernandes.”
ONE on TNT 1 Media
“In the DREAM Grand Prix when he was fighting Joe Warren, seeing him get that fat nice belt from DREAM. So I’ve always been a big fan of World Grand Prix. Just because, it’s not about how big you are. You get 16 top dudes in a weight class, just go in there, and just fight. There is marketing but you know if you want to get to this championship, you have to go through these guys to get to that belt. That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about the Grand Prix.”
“To where nowadays, somebody that’s a big name can just walk in there on losses. In mixed martial arts, you can get a world title shot on losses. In a World Grand Prix, once you lose, you’re out. You’re done, it’s over with. So even if I’m able to capture the ONE flyweight belt on Thursday Singapore time, Wednesday American time, my World Grand Prix is always going to be my crown jewel.”
Demetrious Johnson vs Adriano Moraes
When I interviewed Adriano Moraes, I didn’t think it was hyperbolic to say that this fight is one of the more consequential flyweight bouts in MMA history. Just considering the respective resumes of yourself and Moraes. I’m kind of wondering what your feeling on that characterization is?
“It’s definitely a big fight. It’s definitely a big fight in my career. You know I’m approaching it as it’s another big fight. And that’s it, you know. Back to the Grand Prix talk like if there was featherweight world Grand Prix, and my body was healthy enough, and Chatri (Sityodtong) gave me the blessing to step into it and depending on who was in it.”
“Let’s say there was a world Grand Prix at featherweight, and they’re like, ‘oh, there’s some big motherfuckers there though’. And they’re like ‘yeah you can do it if you want’ then maybe I would do it. But if I were to win it and I have to fight Bibiano Fernandes, I’m like ‘I don’t want to fight Bibiano. I just wanted the belt’.”
“It’s something I grew up watching. Seeing (Kazushi) Sakuraba do the openweight Grand Prix. Sakuraba doing it, it’s almost like…I feel like I spent my whole entire career fighting. Obviously, that’s what you do in your career is fight. I feel like in the Grand Prix, it was just fun for me. Like just going out and fighting. Ok, your next opponent is going to be this guy, and that’s it. When you’re just sitting and training in the gym, you’re just waiting for the phone call like ‘hey your next opponent is this guy’. So I think kind of seeing who’s in the bracket is fun.”
My questioning with DJ begins at 16:15