Former UFC champ and mixed martial arts legend Demetrious Johnson can’t contain his excitement when talking about his ONE Championship debut at ONE: A NEW ERA which takes place 31 March at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
Johnson will be part of the highly-anticipated eight-man tournament, the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, which was designed to determine the top contender for the ONE Flyweight World Title currently held by Brazil’s Adriano Moraes.
Although Johnson is without a doubt the favorite to emerge the victor in this ladder style format, the 32-year-old is content with taking things slowly and letting things naturally unfold.
“It’s cool that it’s a tournament and I’m excited about it, but I’m more excited to go out there and compete for the fans,” Johnson told ONE Championship.
“The flyweight tournament is going to be awesome. [ONE] released the bracket, and it looks stacked from top to bottom. Anyone of those guys can make it to the finals, but I’m just taking it one fight at a time. I have to get past Yuya Wakamatsu.”
Johnson is scheduled to face Japan’s Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu in the quarter-final round. He’s done the research on Wakamatsu and feels that he has the skills to counter the Japanese warrior’s strengths.
Listening to Johnson’s account of Wakamatsu, you can already tell that the American knows exactly what to be wary of — and that’s Wakamatsu’s huge right hand.
“Yuya is pretty tough. He’s got a lot of first-round finishes via knockout and TKO, so obviously he is good on the feet,” Johnson said
“But I have faced a lot of good knockout artists in my mixed martial arts career, so I’m going to go out there, test myself against him, and see where we go from there. “I watched the fight with him and Danny Kingad. Danny was able to control the wrestling, but Yuya was able to drop him with the right hand. “Yuya loves that right hand. He loads it up, lets it fire, and knocks people down, but I’m just excited to go out there and see how my skills match up against him.”
Johnson is currently wrapping up training camp at AMC Pankration, after which he will fly thousands of miles away to Asia where he makes his debut to a new audience. The continent is equally as excited to see Johnson, arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist today, perform to the best of his abilities.
“I’m going to go out there, fight my butt off, use my heart, use my technique, use my skill set, and go out there and take it to him,” Johnson concluded.
“I’m going to go out there and display my skill set to the Asian fans, and to the world.”
How do you think Demetrious Johnson will do in ONE Championship?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/25/2019.