Demetrious Johnson is 36 years old and nearing the end of his impressive MMA career. But his conditioning is still elite and that’s what drove him to victory in his rubber match with Adriano Moraes on Friday in the main event for the first time at ONE Championship in the United States.
Johnson slowly broke down Moraes, using the knees and winning the exchanges into a clinch. Referee Herb Dean was constantly urging the fighters to work and gave Moraes a deep warning to keep him in the third position.
But Johnson kept going throughout and picked up a unanimous decision victory to retain his ONE flyweight title at First Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, in what may be the final fight of his illustrious career. Johnson said he had not decided whether to continue fighting.
After asking the crowd if he wanted him to fight again—and the answer was an enthusiastic yes—Johnson said, “I’ll have to talk to my wife first. I’ll get back to you guys. This is a behind-closed-doors discussion.”
Moraes stopped Johnson in 2021 with a knee, and Johnson recovered it in 2022 with a knee himself. Neither fighter was in danger of finishing on Friday but Moraes was farting and didn’t have an answer in the ring.
Johnson would repeatedly slam him across the body with knees and grabbed him with lots of elbows as Moraes tried to get away.
“I don’t think there’s anyone else in mixed martial arts who has a better clinch game than me,” Johnson said in a rare moment of bravado for him.
Morais impressed Johnson with his ability to take on the knees he kept pounding with.
His body is very sturdy [because] Johnson said. “I was getting over it.”
Moraes never showed any signs of being in trouble, though a depleted gas tank at the end was undoubtedly the result of Johnson attacking his midsection.
Johnson has made it clear that he is still among the best fighters in the world, but whether he will do it again remains unknown. However, he did give a hint that he would at least consider one more.
When asked if he would fight again, he said he spoke to his family and then shouted, “Show me the money!”
If there is a financial deal to be made, Johnson may not be finalized after all. If he was, he came out on a high note, reminding everyone of his genius in the cage and all-around skills.