ONE flyweight world champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson finished his trilogy with Brazilian superstar Adriano Moraes on his terms last weekend at ONE Fight Night 10, but he stopped short of announcing his retirement as he left the door open to potentially continue his stellar fighting career.
The mixed martial arts legend defended his crown with a dominant performance that earned him a unanimous decision win in the main event of ONE’s debut card on U.S. soil last Saturday, 6th May.
After back-to-back finishes in the previous two meetings, the margin for error was thinner than ever before in their third meeting inside Denver, Colorado’s 1stBank Center.
Despite that, “Mighty Mouse” was still hunting for a trilogy-defining knockout throughout the 25-minute affair.
“I really wanted a finish, you know I trained extremely hard to finish in training camp. That’s why I push myself so hard to look for that finish,” Johnson said.
“The second time we fought I was able to break his body down, get him clinching, and caught him with the right hand and landed the knee. This time he wasn’t as jumpy and tried to walk me into a flying knee and his elbows, that’s what he did in the second fight.
“So, I’m happy with my performance. I beat him up a lot in the clinch, and I was hurting him a lot, and he did a good job of holding.”
Having walked away from the series with a 2-1 victory, questions over Johnson’s fighting future now sit at the forefront of many fans’ minds.
The MMA all-time great had teased thoughts of retirement ahead of ONE Fight Night 10, and there is every reason to think that he would see his win over Moraes last Saturday as a suitable swansong.
Johnson didn’t have a concrete answer in his post-fight interview. And he hadn’t made his mind up by the press conference after the event, either.
The Washington native did make it clear that he will be assessing the situation in the coming weeks and months, however, and he plans to turn to some of MMA’s greatest athletes for guidance.
“We’ll see. I’m still young. I’m talking to my peers, I’m talking to Urijah Faber. I’m going to reach out to GSP, Khabib Nurmagomedov. I’m going to talk to these guys and ask, ‘Why did you guys stop?’” Johnson said.
“Those guys could’ve kept on fighting, and there comes a point in time – I’m 36 years old – do I just keep on doing this and give the other athletes the opportunity to beat me and add to their legacy?
“I didn’t have nightmares when I was getting ready to fight Adriano, I was having nightmares about what I’m going to do after I’m done fighting. And so, I like to listen to my feelings and try to understand why I’m having nightmares about what am I going to do after fighting when I don’t have an opportunity to train for?”
Should he choose to stick around and defend his crown, “Mighty Mouse’s” next challenge is likely to be a fresh face – in the form of former champion Kairat Akhmetov.
“The Kazakh” picked up a unanimous decision over Reece “Lightning” McLaren at ONE Fight Night 10 to extend his winning streak to six and propel him right to the front of the line for a shot at the world title he once held.
Even with retirement talks hanging over him, Johnson is enticed by the challenge Akhmetov could offer. And the opportunity to stop another contender in their tracks is a task that just might be tempting for the 14-time MMA world champion.
“I love when people are on winning streaks because I love taking it away from them,” said Johnson.
“Kairat’s an amazing athlete, very, very strong. I saw him and Reece McLaren in the World Grand Prix back in 2019.
“And he’s a good wrestler. When I fight him, I’m excited for a new challenge because he brings something different to the table.
“Adriano was longer, and Kairat’s bigger than me, and he’s probably bigger than me as an athlete. I weighed in at 133 pounds, and it was super easy to make that weight. So, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”