In the main event of the inaugural event of ONE Championship’s TV deal with Amazon Prime, Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson faced off for a second time.
Their first fight ended in disaster for the former UFC champion and all-time great ‘Mighty Mouse’ when Moraes dropped Johnson with a short uppercut before finishing the fight with a grounded knee, legal under the ONE ruleset. It was not just the finish that was trouble for the legend Johnson though, as the height and length of the champion Moraes made it almost impossible for DJ to get close enough to do significant damage.
— El Rocktagono (@elrocktagono) July 6, 2022
Coming into the rematch at ONE on Prime Video it was clear that Mighty Mouse had to make some serious adjustments if he was to have any hope of exacting his revenge. Meanwhile Moraes could likely do what he did previously: use his length fight at a long range and hold his high-level grappling ability in his back pocket if it was needed.
Johnson came out immediately trying to walk forward and push Moraes back but the champion’s offensive returns continually re-established a more equal balance of pressure. A feeling out process ensued until some showmanship entered into the fray from the challenger as he squatted and feigned a gun shooting motion, then stood back up with his hands behind his back.
Moraes made him pay, however, by catching a kick, shooting a takedown, and ending up in full guard. Johnson used butterfly guard at first to keep Moraes from passing initially but it was not long before the champ was in half guard, but then back in full. The exchanges were even. DJ hunted for an armbar but Moraes bailed out and avoided danger before settling back on top. Both men traded elbows — one notable elbow cut open the champion — and DJ kept an active guard, not letting Moraes settle at all in one position, though the Brazilian spent the last two seconds of the round in quarter mount. Although Moraes had a great round, he had earned a massive cut above his right eye from the aforementioned elbow for his trouble.
Early in round two Adriano Moraes countered a lazy low kick with a straight left that rocked DJ. The pair began to open up and a wild, 50/50 exchange soon followed. Next, a massive right question mark kick from Moraes bypassed the challenger’s guard and staggered him back to the fence. Moraes noticed, despite Johnson’s best efforts to hide it, and the ensuing flurry forced DJ to shoot a desperation takedown which only led to him getting sprawled on. The ensuing hard grounded knees to the head of the American made it seem like the fight would end similarly to the first one, but DJ partially defended himself and stayed conscious, though in severe danger. However, when Moraes switched to hunting a front choke, DJ took advantage to stand up, only to get taken back down off of a knee he threw in the clinch. A series reminiscent of the ground work from the first round followed. Moraes tried harder to pass the guard than he did to land strikes from top position. DJ’s guard remained as active as ever but the round ended with Adriano on top once again.
— Lok Lambert (@ClinchworkMMA) August 27, 2022
A blitz from DJ led to a collision early in round three and foreshadowed a committed attempt to pressure the champ much more in this round, which led to great success for Johnson. The feints of DJ set up singular punches and body kicks from range that damaged Moraes consistently. The Brazilian did not appear as comfortable on the back foot as on the front and as a result his offense had waned considerably. The rhythm of the legend started getting going beautifully and some of his strikes began to have clear effects, stunning Moraes. Demetrious Johnson’s patented creativity was on full display as he hand-fought his way into the clinch to turn over an elbow at one point. The whole time, Moraes still only went backwards, only managing to get on the front foot in the last ten seconds of the round. Although ONE MMA fights are scored as a whole, the fight would be clearly 29-28 to Moraes were it applicable.
Early in the penultimate round of the title bout, DJ crashed into the clinch but was able to avoid the takedown and escape even though Moraes had double underhooks. This was a sizable win considering the time he had spent on his back in the first two rounds.. Immediately after, he gained the front foot again but Moraes looked to clinch more often to smother the relentless forward pressure and lightning-fast strikes of the challenger. Unfortunately for him he was unable to mount much offense from the clinch. In fact, it was DJ getting the better of the damage in the clinch with short knees until Moraes separated.
Next, it was DJ’s turn to clinched up as he returned to the knees he had used just before. After the exit, Moraes threw a flying knee that pushed DJ off his feet, but the challenger got back up. The champion seemed to be unable or unwilling to spend energy on gaining top position on the ground, not pouncing on situations like that one, or catching kicks like he had in the first round. As DJ stalked his prey Moraes looked to counter more, trying to doing something about the pressure. However, it was his hands being away from his chin which led to him getting dropped badly by a straight right hand which was immediately followed by a walking forward knee as Moraes slumped against the fence, putting the champion out cold. ‘Mighty Mouse’ walked off for the highlight reel before the ref had even noticed that Moraes was unconscious. The tables had turned and now Mighty Mouse used his opponent’s technique against him, becoming the first fighter from the UFC to make the leap to ONE and win a belt.
Demetrious Johnson just KNOCKED OUT Adriano Moraes and is once again the ONE Flyweight Champion! 🏆pic.twitter.com/BEsJOrTPMT
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) August 27, 2022
Johnson’s joyful nature was on full display after the fight. He did his signature victory celebration of a spinning, jumping kick followed by fist raised in the air, and when the belt was put on him he pretended it weighed too much, falling to the ground under its weight. Both men had now been finished by the other, in eerily similar ways. With ONE on Prime Video 1 completed, it is almost a given that a trilogy bout would follow in the near future.