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Johnson draws inspiration from friend Fernandes in ONE move

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By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

FORMER pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson had decided to take his talent to ONE Championship after years with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was a decision that he said was partly because of how well things have panned out for his friend and reigning ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes since the latter moved to Asia’s biggest sports media property early in this decade.

Officially landed with ONE last weekend after the deal that sent him to the group in exchange for undefeated ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren pushed through, Mr. Johnson (27-3-1) said he is very happy for Mr. Fernandes and that he is looking forward to experiencing the same things now that he is part ONE.

“Uh, I would say, if Bibiano had an impact on this decision, I’d think it’s right before he signed with ONE Championship and he had the opportunity to go to another organization. He was like, ‘You know, long term for me, Asia has always been good to me. I’m a martial artist about respect, honor, discipline and I feel that Asia was the best move for me.’ And he told me ‘I told you DJ, it’s gonna be good for you. Just watch. Just watch’,” shared Mr. Johnson in a global conference call on Monday.

“Obviously, me and Bibiano are very close. Family men, training partners, I’m a student of his so with that being said, it was a big decision,” he added.

Mr. Johnson said he will not be in the corner of Mr. Fernandes for his unification bout with interim world champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon in Singapore on Nov. 9, but if he is asked to help he would.

“I will not be in his corner, he has his team for that. I will be out there in Singapore if he needs my help. I told him I’ll be there to help him,” said Mr. Johnson, who was last seen fighting in August, losing his UFC flyweight title to Henry Cejudo by way of split decision.

Now part of ONE, he could well vie for the flyweight belt now held by Filipino Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio. He, however, said he is willing to work his way up and take on whoever is put in front of him.

“I’ve actually watched Geje and Adriano Moraes [of Brazil]. Their last fight, I actually watched that one, too. So they’re fantastic competitors and I can’t wait to be able to mix it up with those guys. I truly believe that their stand-up is legit. These guys have been doing it since they were young. You know in America you don’t start doing martial arts unless you parents put you in martial arts and karate when you’re 4-5. I joined wrestling just because, when I was in high school and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m gonna wrestle’. Then I started mixed martial arts when I was 18 so these guys have more training in martial arts than I’ve ever had so I’m looking to see how I fare against them,” he said.

The next event for ONE Championship is “ONE: Heart of the Lion” on Nov. 9 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, headlined by the women’s strawweight championship fight between champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan of China and challenger Angela “The Unstoppable” Lee of Singapore and also the reigning women’s atomweight champion.

Co-headlining is Fernandes versus Belingon.

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