‘Mighty Mouse’ Trapped in COVID-19 Limbo

By Keith Shillan May 25, 2020

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship 125-pound titleholder Demetrious Johnson was in the middle of a training camp in preparation for his One Championship Infinity 1 showdown with flyweight kingpin Adriano Moraes when the COVID-19 pandemic brought a sudden halt to his efforts. AMC Pankration, where “Mighty Mouse” trains in Woodville, Washington, closed its doors under government order, and One Championship was forced to cancel its event. Johnson nevertheless remains positive.

“We can’t control the world, right?” Johnson told Sherdog.com. “I don’t see any reason to be negative. The title fight is going to happen. When it does, I will be prepared as I can be and go out there and give it hell.”

Johnson, who holds the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses with 11, joined the Singapore-based promotion in 2018, when he was exchanged for onetime Olympian Ben Askren in the first-ever cross-organization trade. The 33-year-old moved to 135 pounds upon arriving and immediately thrust into the 2019 One Championship Flyweight Grand Prix. He defeated all three of his opponents to win the eight-man tournament, capping his run with a unanimous decision over Danny Kingad in October. The victory earned Johnson his title shot against Moraes, and the Matt Hume protégé remains eager to return to the cage.

“I would like an eight-week camp, why not?” Johnson said. “I feel like eight weeks is sufficient. I am in shape but not in combat shape. I run and do some strength training, but as far as grappling, punching and wrestling, I haven’t done that in eight or nine weeks.”

Moraes is a three-time division champion. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will head into the match with plenty of momentum, having won five of his past six fights. Moraes, 31, avenged his only defeat during that stretch when he upended Geje Eustaquio in January 2019 to win their trilogy and reclaim the One Championship flyweight crown. Knowing the challenge in front of him, Johnson sounds like a man who is as confident as ever.

“I believe that I always have the skill set to beat anybody in the world,” Johnson said. “This is a fight, and there is always a chance to win. I have competed against a lot of the best guys in the world, and obviously, he is a lot bigger than me, height-wise. He also has phenomenal grappling. I will do my best to go out there and compete and see where we go from there.”

Johnson is widely regarded as the greatest flyweight mixed martial artist of all-time and remains in the pound-for-pound discussion. He has experienced defeat only once in his past 18 appearances dating back to 2011—a contentious split decision loss to Henry Cejudo that cost him the UFC flyweight championship nearly two years ago. Despite the razor-close nature of the result and the fact that Johnson already holds a decisive victory over Cejudo, he has no plans to seek out a rematch anytime soon, if ever.

“If it ever happens, it happens,” Johnson said. “I have never been that type of guy before. Even when I lost to Dominick Cruz and Brad Pickett, I took my loss and I moved on and you do something else with your life. I have way more s--- on my plate to worry about than trying to get that one back. When it is time for me to fight and compete, I compete and then leave the fight behind me. When I win or lose, that is all I do. I’m not a guy that dwells on my wins or losses.”

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