Demetrious Johnson will become the first fighter to win titles with both the UFC and ONE Championship if he can beat Adriano Moraes this week.

Their fight will headline the historic ONE on TNT event.  The American is widely considered to be the greatest MMA fighter ever.

But while he heads into this fight as the heavy favourite despite being the challenger he’s not taking the champion lightly,

“I feel like everything is a challenge. I’m 34 years old, been doing this for a very long time. Getting the daily grind in and out of the gym and taking on an athlete like Adriano Moraes is not easy. He’s very long, very big for the weight class, he has a reach advantage.”

Tall challenge

‘Mighty Mouse’ is used to fighting taller opponents and admits it represents a ‘challenge’,

“So, the challenge will be, how can I close distance without running into any trouble. Get in there, getting my hands on him and imposing my will. So right there, it’s a challenge,” he added.

Johnson has only lost three times in his illustrious career and put together a run of three straight victories on his way to winning the ONE Championship flyweight grand prix in 2019. However he doesn’t get too hung up on his record or results,

“For me it’s not about losing. My last loss against Henry Cejudo was probably one of my best-ever performances and my stock ran up even higher because each time I go out there and fight I go out there to compete.”

Nothing changes

Johnson’s philosophy puts more emphasis on the performance than the result,

“I’m not worried about losing. Losing’s part of the game. I’ve lost before and nothing’s ever changed. I’ve gone out there and won fights and nothing’s ever changed,” he continued.

Out of 30 wins 12 have come via submission and he believes that the fight with Moraes could be won or lost on the ground,

“I think his greatest strength is his grappling. I think he’s very long for the division, he’s very tall. He’s a phenomenal grappler. He likes to get on people’s backs and lock out the body triangle,” said Johnson.

Letting hands go

Winning the ONE Championship flyweight title would certainly enhance his reputation as one of the best ever. But despite his immense achievement he is still looking to make improvements.

“I’d like to let my hands go a little bit more. But you’re playing with such fine windows of opportunity on the feet, ground it’s a little bit different. You can feel your opponent’s energy in their weight and how they transfer but, on the feet, you’re playing with openings and I haven’t been able to utilize those openings that I see.”

This will be the first time that Johnson heads into a title fight as the challenger since he beat Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural UFC flyweight title in 2012. As far as Johnson is concerned, the goal remains the same whether he has the title or not.

“It never changes. The only thing that changes is that now I’m training for a five round fight instead of a three-round fight, so I’ve never really had that mindset. My mindset never changes, it’s just another fight.”