Despite suffering a knockout defeat to defending flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes last night at ONE on TNT I via a knee, Demetrious Johnson maintains the use of a knee strike to the head of a grounded opponent should be allowed to be utilized. 

Challenging for the ONE Championship title in last night’s co-headliner, Johnson dropped his first defeat under the Singapore-based promotion’s banner, as well as the first finish loss of his gold-laden professional career. 

Suffering a second-round knockdown via a well-placed uppercut from American Top Team mainstay, Moraes — Johnson was struck with a left knee, rendering him unconscious as he attempted to gather himself and secure an under-hook. 

Back in March at UFC 259, current bantamweight titleholder, Aljamain Sterling was crowned the undisputed titleholder after he suffered an illegal knee strike in the fourth-round against defending gold holder, Petr Yan.

Under the UFC’s banner, the use of knees to the head of a grounded opponent is deemed illegal, and following Sterling’s ascension to the throne via a disqualification win, Johnson took to his Twitter to back the use of knees to the head of a grounded opponent in the sport.

Here’s the thing, you can’t stall the fight by sitting on your knees,” Johnson wrote. “Knees to a (the head) of a grounded opponent should be allowed!

Reflecting on last night’s defeat to Moraes, Johnson explained that he still likes the rules enforced by ONE Championship, despite suffering a knockout defeat himself as a result of the strike.

I like these rules,” Johnson said during a post-fight scrum with media. “Like I said, it’s a progression of a fight. I went down on my back, I was coming up for an under-hook. Adriano (Moraes) had me posted and blasted a knee, the fights over, it’s done. I don’t get any more concussions. It’s just done. And it was a different position than I’ve been in. Adriano did a good job of using his length. He fully extended me and landed the knee…

Yeah absolutely (I still support the rule),” Johnson said. “Like I said, it ended the fight. I wasn’t stalling one bit. I was trying to get up and fight and I got blasted with a knee. (In) My very first fight in ONE Championship — I did it to Yuya Wakamatsu and ended up getting the finish. The rule is meant to be there to keep the fight progressing and end the fight. If Adriano wasn’t able to land that knee, yes I would have still been in that fight so he would have had to do something totally different. I’m totally content with what happened. I’m not like, ‘That rule should be taken out!’ That’s what the rule is, Adriano used it to his advantage and I was on the other end of the stick.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

Commenting on Johnson’s defeat, the aforenoted, Sterling maintains that the use of knees to the head of a grounded opponent should remain illegal. 

This is why knees to downed opponents are vicious and ILLEGAL in MMA in the UFC! If this was the USA that knee is not allowed and ‘Mighty Mouse’ (Demetrious Johnson) can get up in a more safe and protective manner. I hope ‘Mighty Mouse’ is ok, but this is why I disagree with those rules. #ONEonTNT1

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.