After being stopped for the first time in his career at Wednesday’s ONE on TNT 1, Demetrious Johnson was not about to shy away from the loss, or from how it came out.
“It’s frustrating. I watched the fight about four or five times and saw the exchange that took me out of the fight,” Johnson (30-4-1) said following the bout, speaking in a virtual media scrum. If you compete in the sport long enough, added Johnson, “it’s bound to happen. Do I want it to happen? Absolutely not.”
Still, seeing Johnson, one of the best of all time, lose to the lesser-known but clearly talented Adriano Moraes was likely a shock to some. The end came after Johnson ate a heavy punch, which led to what he referred to as a slip. From there, “[Moraes] had me on the ground, I was going for an underhook, and he just blasted me in the face with a knee. That’s all she wrote.”
That sort of knee would not have been legal in Johnson’s old home in the UFC. It’s the sort of knee, or close to it, that got Petr Yan disqualified against Aljamain Sterling earlier this year. But under the ONE Championship ruleset, knees to opponents who would be considered grounded under the Unified Rules of MMA are acceptable. And Johnson is just fine with that.
“I like these rules. It’s the progression of a fight. I went down on my back, I was coming up with an underhook, Adriano had me posted, he blasted me with a knee, it’s done,” he stated. “I don’t get any more concussions, it’s just done.”
“It ended the fight. I wasn’t stalling one bit, I was trying to get up and fight and I got blasted with a knee. My first fight in ONE Championship I did it to Yuya Wakamatsu and ended up getting the finish,” Johnson continued. As he sees it, the rule is all about allowing the fight to progress naturally, and bringing about the end if need be. “If Adriano wasn’t able to land the knee, yes I still would have been in the fight, but he would have had to do something totally different.”
While Johnson didn’t specify, that “something totally different” could no doubt have been equally damaging.
In any case, “I’m totally content,” the former UFC champ said following the loss. “I’m not like ‘that rule should be taken out.’ That’s what the rule was, Adriano used it to his advantage, and I was on the other end of the stick.”
Watch the full ONE on TNT 1 post-fight virtual media scrum with Demetrious Johnson above.