Kairat Akhmetov has already won the ONE Championship flyweight title once. But the division is a totally different place now that Demetrious Johnson has signed.
Johnson is regarded as being the best flyweight fighter of all time. He made 11 consecutive title defences during his stint as the UFC champion and is clearly one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
Akhmetov lost the title in 2018. It has taken him nearly five years and six victories to work his way back into contention but he knows that his next fight will be against the best flyweight in the history of the sport,
When I look back, I see a long road I had to walk to reach the top again something I couldn’t have even imagined for years. Now it’s real, it’s not a dream. I am already halfway there, and I am only one step away from writing a new chapter in my history, that will tell the whole world who the Kazakhs are. I am ready.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 14, 2023
After Johnson beat Adriano Moraes by decision at ONE Fight Night 10 it was announced that Akhmetov would be his next opponent. The entire audience saw them facing off inside the cage but not everyone got to see the Kazakh flyweight fight.
His rematch with Reece McLaren was on the prelims and was not broadcast live. But it was the second time Akhmetov has beaten the Australian and he decided to switch up his strategy,
Our first bout was a stand-up fight. I thought that he was going to expect the same from me this time. So, we decided to outsmart him and wrestle more. As the fight went on, I worked on all fronts – switched from wrestling to stand-up when necessary.
In the buildup all the talk had been about Johnson potentially retiring. But he appears to have had second thoughts and declared that he was excited to be facing Akhmetov next.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 6, 2023
Akhmetov sits at #2 in the rankings. But the man above him has just lost to Johnson twice in a row and there is no chance that Moraes will be awarded a third shot at the champion.
He dreams of recapturing the title and of beating the all time flyweight great. Akhmetov knows he will have the opportunity to achieve both ambitions in one night and says that ‘the stars are aligned’,
I’ve been waiting to fight for the title again for a long time, and I really wanted to face ‘Mighty Mouse’ in the cage, and now the stars are aligned. Everything’s going according to plan. If this fight happens, both of my dreams will come true, I’ll kill two birds with one stone.