Demetrious Johnson Not Worried About Ring Rust for February Return to One Championship

Dec 25, 2020

When One Championship flyweight grand prix winner Demetrious Johnson returns to action on Feb. 24 in Singapore, it will be following the longest layoff of his nearly 14-year career. Previously, the longest he had been away from the cage was a 10-month break between his Ultimate Fighting Championship title defenses against Ray Borg and Henry Cejudo. This latest forced hiatus will surpass that by six months. Plus, he is making his longer than expected return in the midst of a global pandemic. The unique factors at play are serious enough that the pound-for-pound talent can’t ignore the possibility of ring rust heading into his title fight with division kingpin Adriano Moraes.

“Washington state, we are technically in quarantine now. So, when we train it has to be in a pod grouping. When I was training for the Ray Borg and Henry Cejudo fights, totally different. We had a classroom full of athletes running around here [and] different sizes to train with. Right now, we have groups of four so we can keep it healthy and nobody gets COVID,” Johnson told Sherdog. “Obviously, there’s a lot of states out there that haven’t shut down and you see athletes left and right pop-up with COVID-19. With our gym; knock on wood, we haven’t had one positive case inside the gym. With that being said, that’s probably the hardest thing with training going forward. We were on lockdown from Nov. 14 to Dec. 14. Now Governor [Jay] Inslee just extended it to Jan. 4, so that’s very frustrating. But we are in a different world right now. There’s a lot of restrictions in training. Ring rust? We’ll find out. I’ve always been the type of athlete that comes to compete, always showed up and just did my thing. Mentally I should be prepared. Physically I always make sure I’m prepared.”

Along with talking about his extended layoff, the 34-year-old spoke about the challenges Moraes will offer in their championship clash, and where winning One Championship gold would rank among his other career achievements. He also answered questions on how the UFC handles his history and explained why homeschooling his children has been one of the greatest tests of his life.

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