Singapore-based martial arts organization ONE Championship has recently signed a host of high profile free agents, most notably Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Sage Northcutt. Among Western fans, many of whom grew familiar with these fighters during their time in the UFC, the widespread expectation was that all three would all be extremely successful in ONE.
This has not been the case.
Of the three, only Demetrious Johnson was triumphant in his first ONE Championship bout, submitting Yuya Wakamatsu in Tokyo in March. Alvarez was stopped by Timofey Nastyukhin earlier the same night, and Sage Northcutt was knocked out by Cosmo Alexandre a little over a week ago.
While Northcutt and Alvarez’s tough ONE Championship debuts surprised man fans, they were less surprising to Demetrious Johnson, who recognizes that in a sport as rich in variables as MMA, any fighter can be defeated on any given night.
“I did [watch it]… It’s tough,” Johnson told BJPenn.com, discussing Northcutt’s debut in particular. “It’s mixed martial arts. Anything can happen. Cosmo Alexandre, he’s a tough dude, great kickboxer, obviously has a lot of power in his hands.
“Any fighter on any day can lose. You can ask any fighter, that’s just the reality of fighting.”
Demetrious Johnson also reminds that there are dangerous competitors in every promotion, from the UFC, to ONE Championship, and further afield.
“I’ve always thought any promotion in the world is legit,” he said. “It’s just casual fans who think just because you fight in North America you’re the best athlete in the world, and that’s not the case whatsoever. I mean you’ve got guys like Kyoji Horiguchi, who’s cleaning house [in RIZIN]. He’s about to fight for a world title in Bellator.”
Demetrious Johnson continued, assuring that just as some veterans of Western promotions have struggled in ONE Championship, many ONE Championship fighters would likely do well in Western promotions.
He points to Gegard Mousasi, who rose to prominence in Japan’s DREAM and later dominated in the UFC and Bellator, as an example of this reality.
“If ONE Championship athletes were to go to North America [promotions] to compete, I’m sure they’d do well,” he said. “Look at guys like Gegard Mousasi. The majority of his career was in Japan. I think it doesn’t matter what organization you fight under. Any athlete can lose on on any given day.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/28/2019.