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Demetrious Johnson set for his much anticipated debut at ONE: A New Era

On Sunday (March 31), one of the biggest names in the sport of mixed martial arts will finally make his ONE Championship debut.

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who is a 12-time Flyweight World Champion, will make his first promotional appearance.

He takes on Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-final bout at ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, Japan.

The Evolve Fight Team representative joined the promotion following a dominant run in North America, as he sought new challenges.

“I felt that I am pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different,” Johnson explained.

“I always wanted to travel the world and compete, and I actually grew up watching Asian mixed martial arts – with PRIDE, mostly.

“To be able to have the opportunity to travel over to Asia to compete in a totally different weight class is something I couldn’t pass up.”

There is something else that caught Johnson’s eye.

He has never been a fan of trash talk, and by joining ONE, he found a like-minded partner with an organization that holds values in a high light.

“I was never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America. I saw some athletes use it as a way of bullying, [and] as a way of gaining followers,” he said.

“I am very excited I don’t have to go through that whole thing, [and can carry] myself as a true martial artist. I have felt I have always done that in my time here in North America, and it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia.

“It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as true martial artists who are going to go in there and test our skills against each other. 

“I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I go to compete."

Johnson will immediately be put to the test, as he will bring his talent to the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.

The tournament features eight of the best flyweights on the planet, all of whom possess well-rounded skills with strong expertise in a specific martial art.

All of that will certainly challenge “Mighty Mouse” in this next chapter of his career.

“This division is stacked, and the best thing is, they’ve all faced each other before, and had wins and losses,” he explains.

“On any given day, any of them can win the fight, and that’s another thing I love about ONE Championship.

“These guys aren’t afraid to put it on the line because the promotion and the fans don’t care if you lose – it’s not the end of your career. They respect that you come to compete.”

His first challenge will be overcoming a hometown hero in Wakamatsu.

“Little Piranha” has power in his hands, which led him to a 90 percent finishing rate and gave him all the confidence in the world that he can knock out Johnson.

The American understands the dangers his opponent presents and is heading into the contest with caution.

“Yuya is pretty tough. He’s got a lot of first-round finishes via knockout and TKO, so obviously he is good on the feet,” the veteran acknowledges.

“But I have faced a lot of good knockout artists in my mixed martial arts career, so I’m going to go out there, test myself against him, and see where we go from there.”

Johnson hopes the next step will be the semi-final round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, and he promises to do everything in his power to make his promotional debut an unforgettable one.