On Monday 29th October, the press conference call announcing the signing up of former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson was held, where Chatri Sityodtong (CEO & Chairman, ONE Championship) and Johnson interacted with the media across the globe. Demetrious Johnson, 32 is the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter of this era who in 2012, became the inaugural UFC Flyweight World Champion. He held the belt for six straight years and defended it for eleven times. He enters the ONE flyweight roster with a professional record of 27-3-1, with five wins coming via knockout and 11 via submission. He has never been finished in his 11-year career.
Our Ideologies and Principles Sync
Johnson, the former UFC Flyweight champion said that the main reason for him to join the ranks at ONE Championship was the principles with which ONE operates. We’ve never seen Johnson trash talk and bully his opponents to promote the fights which is why he has been respected by his opponents all through his career in the UFC. Respect and promoting the fight in a true martial art way is what DJ had always practiced. When asked about the recent post fight confrontation at UFC 229 he said “I was never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America. I saw some athletes use it as a way of bullying, [and] as a way of gaining followers. I’m very excited I don’t have to go through that whole thing, [and can carry] myself as a true martial artist. I have felt I have always done that in my time here in North America, and it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia”.
For the Love of Martial Arts
For Johnson, martial arts have always been about showcasing skill and performing to his fullest abilities. “I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I go to compete. Artists don’t run their mouths and attack people or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do is being a martial artist, so I’m very much looking forward to it” He said.
No Bitterness Leaving the UFC
Since he rejected the offer to compete against T.J Dillashaw last year, DJ and Dana White logged horns and traded war of words in media. Following his loss this year, Johnson felt like the time was right to move out of UFC and explore other options. He stated “I leave the UFC with no regrets, on good terms. I believe I accomplished everything I could there. I defended the belt 11 times. I won every single way you can possibly think of — knockout, submission that nobody has ever seen before — I’ve done everything I can over there”.
Next Major Step in Career
Despite being the most dominant world champion in MMA who defended UFC Flyweight Championship 11 consecutive times, Demetrious Johnson has never competed in front of the Asian crowd. “I’m very honored and grateful to be able to be a ONE athlete. It is a huge move on my part and for my career,” he said. “I am looking to get over there in Asia and test my skill set against the best of ONE Championship in the flyweight division. I know those guys are animals. I know Geje Eustaquio, Adriano Moraes, and all the other guys are beasts, and I’m looking to getting in the ring with those guys to see how well I fare.”
Competing in New Territories, Testing New Waters
Johnson has always been open to new challenges, which is evident in his 11 consecutive title defenses. Following his loss at the hands of Henry Cejudo and losing his title belt, DJ sought new challenges and expressed his desire to compete overseas with ONE. He explained “I felt that I’m pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different. I always wanted to travel the world and compete, and I grew up watching Asian mixed martial arts – with PRIDE, mostly. To be able to have the opportunity to travel over to Asia to compete in a totally different weight class is something I couldn’t pass up.” Johnson is also well aware that a title shot is not at the horizon, but with a dominant win in his promotional debut early next year he would be working his way into contention. Johnson also added he is interested in branching out and testing his striking skills in ONE Super Series. “I definitely think I have the skills to do it. I actually have Muay Thai and shoot boxing competition underneath my belt, but first thing’s first – I get my toes wet in mixed martial arts,” he said.