Pound-for-pound superstar Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is now a ONE Championship athlete, and he is delighted to have joined the world’s largest martial arts organisation.
Johnson took part in a specially-arranged conference call to chat about his move with the world’s media, as he gets set to embark on an exciting new chapter in his glittering career.
“I am very honoured and grateful to be able to be a ONE athlete. It is a huge move on my part and for my career,” he told the media on the call.
“I am looking to get over there in Asia and test my skill set against the best of ONE Championship in the flyweight division.”
There are plenty of competitive options awaiting Johnson upon his arrival in the ONE.
Filipino star Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio is the current ONE Flyweight World Champion, and former World Champions Adriano Moraes and Kairat Akhmetov are right in the mix, too.
Johnson says he knows and respects all of the existing stars of the ONE flyweight division, and says he looks forward to testing himself against a new set of opponents in ONE.
“I know those guys are animals,” he said.
“I know Geje, Moraes, and all the other guys are beasts, and I am looking to getting in the ring with those guys to see how well I fare.”
Johnson arrives in ONE Championship as the most dominant world champion in mixed martial arts history.
“Mighty Mouse” captured the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship back in September 2012 and went on to make 11 consecutive defences, which set a new record.
Now, after his split-decision defeat to Henry Cejudo in his last match-up, Johnson’s contractual ties to the UFC loosened, and led him to sound out the possibility of making the switch to ONE Championship.
“I felt that I am pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different,” Johnson explained.
“I always wanted to travel the world and compete, and I actually 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 was also impressed with the ethos of ONE, where the organisation and its athletes operate to promote the positive aspects of martial arts. That is something Johnson always attempted to do during his career in North America.
“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,” he said.
“I am 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.
“It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as true martial artists who are going to go in there and test our skills against each other.
“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.”
Johnson says he hopes to make his ONE debut early in 2019, and says he is prepared to earn his shot at a belt, rather than waltz in and get an immediate opportunity.
He also said he would be interested in competing in other martial arts disciplines, such as ONE Super Series striking-only bouts and grappling super-matches.
“I definitely think I have the skills to do it,” he said of a possible ONE Super Series journey.
“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.
“As long as Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO] is okay with it, and my coach is okay with it, then I don’t see [a problem]. One of the beautiful things about ONE Championship is that you’re not just stuck in one pool.
“If I put my name in a hat to try a Muay Thai fight, I’m sure they wouldn’t be opposed to it – as long as I’m able to display that I have the skill set to do that, which I truly believe I do.”