The rubber match between Demetrious Johnson, the consensus flyweight GOAT, and Adriano Moraes arrived Friday at ONE Fight Night 10.
The pair’s series to date was tied 1-1, with Moraes catching Johnson with a knee in their first meeting. “Mighty Mouse” returned the favor in an immediate rematch, with a flying knee putting away the Brazilian.
For a fighter with championships in two major promotions, not to mention the UFC title defense record, another win (or loss) over Moraes wouldn’t change his legacy much. It would, however, extend it. The fight also saw Johnson headlining a card on U.S. soil for the first time in years, with ONE Championship making its North American debut.
Moraes went to the body with a kick in the opening minute, while the pair traded low kicks. The longer man, Moraes used his jab, catching Johnson at the end of one and forcing him to circle outside. Johnson answered back with a kick to the body; he showed off some stance switches. Another kick landed for Moraes; Johnson would close the distance and clinch up with about two minutes left in the round.
Moraes, however, reversed position against the fence. The pair traded knees, but would eventually stall out there, leading to a break from the ref. With only 10 seconds remaining in the round, that pretty much took them to the second.
Johnson opened round two with a kick, followed by a couple more, to the outside and inside of Moraes’ leg. Johnson looked to attack at angles, and continued switching stances and staying mobile. Closing the distance, Johnson fired a right hand, forcing Moraes to retreat. Moraes caught a kick moments later, but couldn’t dump “Mighty Mouse.”
Moraes would briefly get Johnson down about two minutes in, dumping him only for the champ to pop back up instantaneously. Moraes then clinched up and drove Johnson into the fence, working in knees but drawing a warning from the ref to keep working. Johnson would fire an elbow off the break, and they’d move back to range, just under two minutes left in the round.
When Moraes quickly took the fight back to the cage, Johnson took advantage. He fired some shoulder strikes, reversed, and landed a takedown, the first real takedown of the fight, if barely. Moraes didn’t stay down long, however, but in a closer round, it could have made a difference — though maybe not given ONE Championship fights are scored as a whole.
Round three saw an early clinch, with the pair trading knees and elbows. Back at range, Moraes fanned on a combo, then went looking for a takedown that Johnson smartly defended. With Moraes stalling out on the cage, ref Herb Dean opted to restart the fight at center, giving Moraes a hard warning in the process. Moraes would take the fight right back to the cage, however; they traded knees, and reversed position a couple of times.
In the final thirty seconds of round three, Moraes dropped for a takedown, but didn’t have it. Johnson landed a jump knee to the body just before the bell.
By round four, Demetrious Johnson was clearly the fresher fighter. Moraes had slowed a step, and continued to rely on tying things up in the clinch, again being warned by ref Dean to keep working. Johnson was equally active with knees; a warning was then doled out for grabbing the gloves. At center, Johnson landed an elbow followed by a knee, backing Moraes up. But Moraes against reversed Johnson, pressing him into the cage and hunting in vain for a takedown. Coming off the fence, a knee, elbow, and jump knee landed for Johnson!
Johnson was starting to show some explosiveness. He would land more knees in a clinch, where the pair reversed several times. Johnson came out of the clinch firing a combo, and when a punch missed, a knee followed that landed for the champ.
The fifth round opened with Johnson pushing the pace. Moraes fired a spinning back kick to the body, but that didn’t seem to slow Johnson. The flyweight great opened up a little with his kicks, nearly connecting to the face of Moraes. Moraes continued to clinch up, snaking his arms around the champ’s neck to try to force him off-balance, a tactic that hadn’t worked throughout the fight.
With just over two minutes to go, a pair of elbows for Johnson caught Moraes walking forward. Moraes tied up, only for Herb Dean to almost immediately separate the pair. Moraes would try a jump knee as Johnson came forward, but that didn’t land. Johnson would look to land a throw in the final minute, but couldn’t quite get there. Moraes tied up, the ref broke the pair apart, and they finished the fight at center.
For the first time in the pair’s shared history, Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes went the distance. The outcome was never really in question, with “Mighty Mouse” capturing a decision on the scorecards, successfully defending his flyweight title. As for any retirement talk for Johnson, that will have to wait for another day, as he said post-fight that he’d need to speak with his family — but when he asked fans in Colorado if he should continue, they certainly answered in the positive.
Official Result: Demetrious Johnson def. Adriano Moraes by unanimous decision