Demetrious Johnson hasn’t had to cut significant amounts of weight in 2019. But the former UFC flyweight champion has done a lot of traveling.

He’s fought twice in Tokyo, once in Manila and spent time training in Singapore. It’s a far cry from the days when the longest trip he made was to travel from Seattle to whichever U.S. state was hosting the UFC card he was competing on,

“Overall, I’m adapting very well to ONE Championship. The timezone change has been something I’ve had to take into consideration (but) my second gym, Evolve MMA in Singapore, has been amazing to me so for my fight in Manila, it was very easy for me to get adjusted to the timezone thanks to them.”

Major difference

Another major difference is that ONE Championship requires its flyweight fighters to weigh in at 135lbs and pass tests to ensure they have not dangerously dehydrated themselves to make weight. Johnson says this has made his life easier,

“I walk around at 140lbs. Now, I’m cutting to 135lbs and being fully hydrated has been pretty easy.”

Johnson fought three times for ONE Championship in 2019, emerging as the winner of the promotion’s Flyweight Grand Prix. He was happy to win the belt, but is also pleased to have emerged unscathed from a busy year,

“One of the biggest things that I would take away from it is that I’ve had no injuries and I had a lot of injuries and surgeries in my career so I’m very happy about that.”

So the 33 year old is understandably content with his year’s work,

“I would say 2019 has been a phenomenal year. To be able to go 3-0 in ONE and capture the Flyweight World Grand Prix title, I’m very grateful,” he said.

New challenge

As the greatest flyweight in the history of the sport Johnson is no stranger to successful years. His record of 11 consecutive UFC title defences might never be broken but he’s embracing a new type of challenge with ONE Championship,

“I don’t like to compare this year to the last year or whatever. I’m just grateful to be a part of a great company and be healthy,” he said.

In recent years elite American fighters like Ben Askren and Eddie Alvarez have signed with ONE Championship. Johnson isn’t the first fighter to make this particular journey but he sees himself as a good fit for the promotion.

True martial artist

He’s never been one for trash talking or hyperbole. Johnson prefers to do his work in the gym, away from the public gaze, and he thinks this is what made ONE Championship the right choice,

“I consider myself a true martial artist. It’s something I love to do. It’s a passion of mine. I live the lifestyle, and I think that’s the biggest reason why I was able to fit right in,”

Next up is a title challenge against reigning champion Adriano Moraes. It represents DJ’s biggest test since leaving the UFC and is a matchup that is sure to capture the imagination of fight fans in Asia.

He has settled quickly into life with ONE Championship. Now the challenge is for ‘Mighty Mouse’ to take one of the promotion’s titles home to Seattle.