Mighty Mouse Johnson Excited About Trade To ONE
Many wondered why Demetrious Johnson would want to walk away from the UFC following his loss to Henry Cejudo earlier this year. On Sunday, the former UFC flyweight champion would appear on a conference call as an official member of the ONE Championship roster and explained why.
“At the end of the day, I felt that I’m pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different,” Johnson said. “I’ve always wanted to travel the world and compete and actually grew up watching Asian mixed martial arts with Pride, mostly. To be able to have the opportunity to travel over to Asia in a whole new weight class, it’s something I couldn’t pass up.
“So obviously I had to leave, and First Round Management, with (Johnson’s manager) Malki (Kawa), after my last fight I was like, ‘You know what? You think this is possible?’ He goes, ‘Anything’s possible, man.” And so Malki was able to get it done and here we are now. I’m grateful that everything fell to the right place, now I’m a ONE athlete, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”
Joining Johnson on Sunday’s call was ONE president Chatri Sityodtong, who credited Johnson’s manager with the heavy lifting of the deal that would send former ONE and Bellator Welterweight champion, Ben Askren to the UFC. Giving credit to Malki Kawa who “took the lead and coordinated everything.” According to Sityodtong, it was Kawa and Askren who came up with the idea to have he and Johnson switch promotions.
Johnson’s coach Matt Hume, who works as the Vice President of Operations for the Asia based brand, would also play a part in bringing this all together.
“It feels good, but this wasn’t done by just me,” Johnson said. “There’s multiple people involved in it. First Round Management, ONE Championship, Chatri, Matt Hume, the UFC, so it was a collective, people coming together and making something happen. And even Ben Askren. So I think it’s a great thing, I think if people want to be able to be traded and compete in different organizations I think that we should have that option on the table.”
“DJ embodies true martial arts,” Sityodtong said. “Asia’s been the home of martial arts for 5000 years and it’s basically been a way of life for Asians, and honor, the respect, the humility, the integrity, the discipline, the compassion that you earn through thousands of hours of training. It’s how we live our lives out here in Asia and DJ not only is the best pound-for-pound king to ever do it, but I think he embodies everything authentic and everything beautiful about martial arts and so I think he’s going to transcend being just a martial arts star.
“I think if you look at who’s transcended just being a martial arts star, whether it’s Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, there’s countless people who have transcended martial arts and became true global superstars. I think DJ has the potential.”
“ONE Championship, they are about bringing up heroes,” Johnson said. “And the first time I watched ‘The Burmese Python’ fight in the last event in Yangon, I could see how the crowd would react to him when he stepped into the cage to fight and after he won and how the whole crowd was saying his name. I can see that his countrymen, his people really see him as a hero, not as an athlete who’s going to go to a bar after this and beat somebody in the face, they honestly are the home of martial arts and it’s not just mixed martial arts.
“It’s kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai, submission grappling, and for me that just intrigued me about it. They’re focused on promoting true martial artists, humble, discipline, integrity, and humility, and that’s all that I stand for, so absolutely I am 100 percent on board with that.”
Quotes Via: MMA Fighting