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Fast-rising Adiwang hoping for chance to battle legend Johnson

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Fast-rising ONE Championship fighter Lito Adiwang of the Philippines. (ONE Championship)

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

BARELY a year in the main draw of ONE Championship, fast-rising Filipino fighter Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang of Team Lakay has made significant strides and is looking to taking on more challenges, including the possibility of facing off with mixed martial arts legend Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

A product of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, strawweight Adiwang (11-2) made his debut in ONE Championship in the landmark “ONE: Century” event in Japan last October, where he made short work of hometown bet Senzo Ikeda, winning by technical knockout in the first round by way of arm bar.

He then followed it up with another impressive victory in January this year here in Manila, submitting Thai Pongsiri Mitsatit by kimura in the opening round, to go 2-0 in ONE.

The twin victories have served notice to the rest of the organization and thrust Mr. Adiwang to the top five in the rankings in the division, which interestingly has teammate Joshua “The Passion” Pacio as champion.

Having the kind of success this early in his ONE Championship career has only pushed Baguio native Mr. Adiwang to strive to be better and set his sights on conquering new heights, which include getting a shot at battling idol Johnson if not now then down the line.

“Yes, it has been my dream to fight Demetrious Johnson since I started training in martial arts. He’s been one of my idols in this sport. I want to test myself against the best in the world, and DJ is it,” said Mr. Adiwang.

“I know I’m new to the game, and just arrived in ONE Championship. But if given the chance to fight DJ now, I’d take it. I’ll be ready with a great game plan,” he added.

Currently Mr. Johnson is fighting in the flyweight division in ONE Championship, making the hoped-for fight impossible at the moment for the Team Lakay fighter.

But just the same, Mr. Adiwang said that given the chance to lock horns with Mr. Johnson he believes he can hold his own against the MMA legend.

“The requirement to beat DJ is full focus for the entire bout, being constantly on the attack and unleashing sharp counters. When you keep him on the back foot, it becomes harder for him to impose his will,” said Mr. Adiwang, who started his career in MMA as a professional in 2012.

“That being said, beating DJ isn’t easy by any means. It’s fun to think about these matchups, and I really love fighting. I just want to fight the best, so bring them on.”

ONE Championship last staged a live event in February before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic ground to a halt its activities.

It is angling to make a return on July 31 with “ONE: No Surrender” in Bangkok, Thailand, to be played at a closed-door and audience-free venue but will be broadcast live all over the globe.

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