Demetrious Johnson looks to cap off whirlwind 2019 with Grand Prix victory

Demetrious Johnson

It’s been a hectic year for Demetrious Johnson.

After signing with ONE Championship in late 2018, the former UFC Flyweight Champion has spent the duration of 2019 thus far bushwhacking his way through the perilous ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.

Following a submission defeat of Yuya Wakamatsu in the tournament’s quarterfinals in March, and a decision defeat of Tatsumitsu Wada in the semifinals in August, he’s now just a few weeks out from the tournament finale: a high-stakes showdown with Filipino spitfire Danny Kingad.

The bout will go down at ONE: Century – Part 1, on Sunday, October 13 in Tokyo, Japan — that’s the night of Saturday, October 12 for fans in North America.

Despite this frenetically busy 2019, and the multiple trips around the world he’s had to make to ply his trade, Johnson is feeling good. That being said, he says he’s eager to get this fight over with so he can take some time off and get some time in with his family.

“It’s been a quick, quick turnaround, and I’m ready to get this fight done with,” Johnson told BJPENN.com ahead of this fight.

“Obviously, I like to have a break between fights — fight every five months; twice a year instead of three times a year,” he added. “It’s always hard going to the gym when your kids are going to school. You miss out on a lot of stuff, you want to be home, you want to be with the kids.

“It’s the sacrifice you make.”

While the former UFC champ often pines for time with his family, he’s focused on the task at hand. As October 13 draws closer, he’s making his final preparations on US soil, and will soon hop on a plane to Tokyo to fight Kingad.

Kingad hails from Team Lakay, an extremely underrated gym perched high up in the mountains of Baguio City, Philippines. Johnson is well aware of the talent of Team Lakay fighters, having helped his friend Bibiano Fernandes prepare for three previous bouts with Team Lakay staple Kevin Belingon.

As such, he’s expecting a very tough challenge from Kingad.

“He’s good,” Johnson said of Kingad. “He’s young, very tough. He has a great record and I’m looking forward to getting in there and mixing it up with him.

“[Team Lakay fighters] are great, man,” he added. “They’ve got great standup, they’re very though, they’re very athletic and explosive. They all share those traits, and I think the better wrestler out of all of them is is Danny Kingad.”

Needless to say, Demetrious Johnson has a lot of nice things to say about his next opponent. That’s due in large part to his own experience. Over the course of his career, Johnson has battled many of the game’s top fighters, all of whom are very dangerous in specific areas. He knows Kingad is no exception to that rule.

“Everybody presents challenges,” Johnson said. “John Dodson had that one-punch knockout power, the speed, quick angles. He’s a great finisher. Dominick Cruz: great standup, great movement. Henry Cejudo: great wrestler. Tatsumitsu Wada: great ground control, great body triangle on the back. Yuya Wakamatsu: great power in his hands. He just knocked out Geje Eustaquio. I’ve fought the who’s who in Asia and North America.”

With a little luck, Johnson will add Kingad’s name to his long list of vanquished foes, and conquer ONE Championship’s action-packed Flyweight World Grand Prix in the process. Then, it’s time for a well-deserved break.

“It’s gonna feel damn good,” Johnson said of a potential Grand Prix win. “It’s been a long year of training. I’ve been in training camp since February. I’m ready for a little break to spend some time with my kids and wife and not think about fighting.

“It’s just the training,” he clarified. “If training wasn’t involved, and I just had to fight in March and August and October, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But it’s been 24 weeks of training camp. That’s a lot of f**king training in a year.”

Although Demetrious Johnson is clearly ready for a breather, don’t think for a second that his motivation is flagging. Once he’s rested up, he plans on challenging ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes for the belt in the New Year, and taking on whoever ONE Championship sees fit thereafter.

In other words, he’s not even thinking about retirement.

“I’ll keep going,” he concludes. “I have no interest in retiring whatsoever.”

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/22/2019.