ONE on TNT 1: Can Moraes End the Era of Mighty Mouse on the Big Stage?

ONE on TNT 1 - Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson, ONE Championship
Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson Credit: ONE Championship

Adriano Moraes is looking to turn his ONE Championship success into greater stardom, but to do so he will need to stop MMA royalty in Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at ONE on TNT 1.

If you haven’t been introduced to Adriano Moraes yet, then now is as good a time as any to be.  The 31 year old Brazilian fighting out of American Top Team has been a professional since 2011 and kicked off his career at a perfect 9-0 that included winning the Shooto title.  He officially joined ONE Championship in 2013 and has been a part of the promotion ever since.  Overall Moraes has an 18-3 record and has notably avenged two of the three losses on his resume.

In ONE, Moraes has spent the majority of his career in title contention.  Since 2014, he has claimed the undisputed title three times and recorded two title defenses.  One of his three losses was a split-decision to Kairat Akhmetov in 2015 that cost him the title, which he later avenged in 2017 and regained the belt.  In 2018, he suffered a split-decision to familiar foe Geje Eustaquio that cost him the belt again, though he again avenged the loss the following year to regain the title again and take the series against Eustaquio 2-1.

At 34 years old, Demetrious Johnson is out to add to a legacy that is already set in stone.  His 11 title defenses in the UFC is a modern era benchmark, and it is difficult to fathom anyone breaking that record when surveying the current landscape.  Johnson was part of more history in 2018, being a part of a groundbreaking trade between the UFC and ONE that brought his talents to Asia where he won his first three fights to claim the Flyweight Grand Prix crown and set up his bout with Moraes.

The fact that Johnson’s loss to Henry Cejudo in 2018 was a razor close split-decision and that he had subsequent victories in ONE afterwards have many keeping Johnson as one of the preeminent talents in the world today.  He is (rightfully so) the favorite to win on Wednesday and in a historic live event televised on TNT that is expected to boost the ONE brand in the United States further than ever before.  That said, he is coming back from the longest layoff of his professional career.  While his recent run does not suggest he is starting to slow down, a run like his can only end abruptly no matter when it were to occur.  If there were a time to assume he could be more vulnerable in any way, one figures it could be now.

An explosive and aggressive attack will be the key to a Moraes victory as he should capitalize on his height and reach advantage over Johnson.  The champion has displayed a multi-faceted attack on the feet and should to use it to full effect early.  The biggest weapon in favor of Johnson is his wrestling.  While Moraes is a competent grappler in his own right, using takedowns and testing the Brazilian’s prowess off his back could be the key as Johnson has proven himself to be well-versed as well on the mat.

The winner would likely see a familiar foe, with top ranked contender Danny Kingad having already fought both men.  Another option would be the winner of fourth ranked Reece McLaren who fights fellow top five flyweight Yuya Wakamatsu later this month.


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