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HomeNewsDemetrious Johnson feeling like 'a chill pickle' heading into Moraes rematch

Demetrious Johnson feeling like ‘a chill pickle’ heading into Moraes rematch


One of the greatest martial arts athletes in history is about to fight professionally in the US for the first time since 2018, a fight that may be the last of his career.

Demetrious Johnson will defend his ONE Championship flyweight title on Friday, May 5 in Denver against Adriano Moraes in ONE’s US debut. The trilogy fight, Johnson’s first, will also be the deciding rubber match between the champion and Moraes.

The 16-year veteran Johnson recently hinted that he may hang up his four-ounce gloves at the end of Friday’s fight. While there has been a lot of talk about his future in the MMA community, the multi-time champion has not been distracted by the extra noise. In fact, according to Johnson, announcing his potential intentions was a way to release stress.

“I don’t see it as noise, I think it’s just me expressing my feelings,” Johnson told Sportsnet from his Denver hotel between training sessions. “When I get into a cage, I know I’m fighting – fighting to make money – so it just makes it easier when I express myself because I’m not holding anything back. I’m speaking my truth in how I feel.”

When Johnson finally calls it a career, he will go down as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever set foot in a cage. ‘Mighty Mouse’ has a professional record of 24-4 across multiple promotions, winning multiple championships. He is also known as one of the more unique fighters in the history of the sport, and one of the fastest.

When asked to list the three qualities he will be most remembered for, Johnson described his style as “intelligent, elusive and ambidextrous”.

“I think what defines my intelligence in the ring is being able to make adjustments as the fight is going on and being able to understand what my opponent is doing,” Johnson explained. “I’ve done mixed martial arts, I’ve done kickboxing, I’ve done Muay Thai and I’ve also done shoot boxing, and I’ve done a lot of jiu-jitsu tournaments. And I did that when I was coming up in the game of mixed martial arts, so I think that was kind of good for my IQ.

After Moraes knocked him out in their first meeting in 2021, Johnson responded in the 2022 rematch with a knockout of his own to win the flyweight title. (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

In fact, Johnson’s prowess as a fighter will not soon be forgotten, nor will his indirect contributions to the sport.

In late 2018, Johnson was part of the first “trade” in pro MMA history when he was sent from the UFC to ONE in exchange for acclaimed middleweight Ben Askren.

After winning his first fight, Askren was on the receiving end of UFC history in his second fight when he was knocked out in just five seconds by Jorge Masvidal, a record in the promotion. Askren went on to lose his next fight and then announced his retirement from MMA. Meanwhile, Masvidal used the popularity generated by the incredible knockout to achieve superstar status on the UFC roster, eventually earning back-to-back fights against then-welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

It’s hard to say for sure what path Masvidal, and the UFC in general, would take had the Johnson-for-Askren trade never materialized. While it’s interesting bar stool fodder for fans, Johnson never considered the “what if” scenario.

“That’s a huge butterfly effect we’re talking about,” he said. “The trade for me, Ben Askren can come, talk a lot, make a lot of noise, which is good. And then you add Masvidal knocked Askren out, he was sort of resurrected.

Johnson added, “I can’t predict the same thing would have happened if I had stayed in the UFC.”

But is there anyone in UFC that Johnson wishes he had had the chance to step into the octagon?

“I’ve never really been the type of guy to think, ‘Man, I wish I’d fought that person’ — unless it’s like Jon Jones or someone like that, but we’re in two different weight classes,” Johnson noted. “I am happy with everyone’s success in that division.

“I want nothing but the best for those guys. I hope they all eat and make a lot of money.”

While there is no certainty about Johnson’s future after the opening bell on Friday’s ONE Fight Night 10, he has announced that he wants to stay involved in mixed martial arts by participating in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

But before that, Johnson is focused on the task at hand: winning the rubber game against Moraes in Denver. Despite the added pressure of main eventing ONE’s debut event in the United States, Johnson seemed to have no trouble maintaining his usual calm demeanor.

“I’m a cold pickle, man. Picking myself up or getting ready for a fight is just wasted energy,” he explained. “I’m super excited for the fight, it’s going to be great. I feel amazing. I’m sure he feels great. I know he is prepared. I’ve made adjustments and we’re going to go out and see if we can make adjustments within nine months (the time since their last fight).

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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