- Demetrious Johnson may be the “greatest” MMA fighter ever but he is about to embark on the fight of his life, One Championship boss Chatri Sityodtong told Insider.
- Johnson, statistically the most dominant champion the UFC has ever seen, left the Las Vegas-based fight firm to join Singapore’s One Championship MMA league.
- The American won his first three fights, claimed the One Championship flyweight Grand Prix, and is now set to challenge Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Adriano Moraes for the flyweight title.
- “It’s a 50-50 fight, great fight for the fans, but not an easy one for DJ,” Sityodtong said. “And for Adriano … he’s fighting a legend.”
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Demetrious Johnson is the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts but that does not mean he has it easy in his next fight, a flyweight bout against One Championship title holder Adriano Moraes.
That is according to Chatri Sityodtong, the founder and CEO of Singapore-based MMA firm One, who told Insider earlier this month that the former UFC athlete Johnson epitomizes One’s culture as he is an extraordinary mixed martial artist and “a wonderful human being.”
Sityodtong signed Johnson in a landmark trade deal with the UFC in 2018, which saw the welterweight wrestler Ben Askren join the Las Vegas-based business.
Johnson left the UFC on a loss, having been defeated by Henry Cejudo after a 13-fight winning run which included 11 consecutive title defences – a UFC record.
Since competing in One, Johnson won three in a row, including a debut guillotine choke submission, and claimed the One Championship flyweight grand-prix, last year.
It sets him up for a shot at Moraes’ flyweight title – “a tough fight” for Johnson, Sityodtong told us, regardless of his pedigree at the top of the sport.
Sityodtong called Johnson “the greatest, pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in history” – a statement ESPN may dispute after recently naming Georges St-Pierre as the world’s best, but one The Athletic may not argue as it said Johnson is most dominant champion in UFC history.
“It’s a statistical fact,” it said in 2019.
Sityodtong said Johnson’s greatness is not just evident during combat. “He’s someone that grandmothers and grandchildren can look up to as a role model. He’s an incredible father, incredible husband, obviously incredible athlete. I love the guy.”
It’s a 50-50 fight between a ‘Jon Jones’-esque body type and an MMA ‘legend’
One of Insider’s dream combat sports matches we had been anticipating this year was a seemingly inevitable fight between Johnson and Moraes, which the coronavirus pandemic has, so far, quashed.
But the way Sityodtong talks, it is only a matter of time before we see Moraes put his 18-3 record and his One belt on the line against Johnson.
“It’s going to be a tough fight,” Sityodtong said, telling Insider that Johnson’s fights in the One Grand Prix proved challenging for the American.
“Adriano is 18-3 and he’s a beast. He’s a black belt on the ground but he’s long, lanky, and tall. He’s got that Jon Jones body type for his weight class, and so he’s difficult to deal with.
“It’s a 50-50 fight, a great fight for the fans, but not an easy one for DJ. And for Adriano … he’s fighting a legend.”
As for when this match can be made, that remains unclear.
One was recently forced to clear its entire combat calendar through May, and so Sityodtong said his team has been “scrambling behind the scenes to reconstruct cards because the [coronavirus-enforced] travel bans has caused so many fights to fall apart “
Sitodtong said: “My intention is to put on all these fights, but let’s see what Mother Nature says.”