A few days ago, I had the distinct pleasure of talking in-depth with James Yang, the widely respected training partner of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson who is scheduled to make his debut against Roel Rosauro at ONE Championship: “Revolution” on September 24.
The first thing that strikes me immediately about James is his brightness, warmth, and sincerity – he is truly welcoming and open to talking to me; he is very positive and open to sharing his honest truth, something that is highly appreciated by all in our world.
By far one of the most intriguing aspects of James’ story is its actual origin. When I asked James about how he made his start in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, James went right back to the beginning and said,
“I started with Kung-Fu, traditional southern-style Kung Fu. I got my start in a dungy garage in Chinatown, and I was like, the only kid there. All of the guys there were these hardened dudes, ex-military types…ex boxers, karate-Kyokushin types, security guard type guys, and they kind of just groomed me and raised me…. Martial Arts has always been my number one passion, and it’s the one thing that I’ve always wanted to do.”
When asked about the gap in activity in his career so far, James confirmed that it was largely a lack of available and willing opponents that contributed to said absence. He explained the extent of this by saying,
“My last two fights were against BJJ black belts in pure grappling matches…I submitted them both.”
It’s quite surprising that James has been reducing to going into the comfort zone of other Mixed Martial Artists just to stay active.
When asked about his relationship with Demetrious Johnson, James displayed his typical humility and respect that really encompasses him as a Martial Artist. He was incredibly proud of how much both he and Johnson learn from each other, how they are always in each other’s corner, and how they both try to push each other the hardest that they can. He was also emphatic when asked about how “Mighty Mouse” will bounce back following his most recent loss. James said:
“I think it’s motivated him and put a fire under him…he handled it (the loss to Moraes) better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
One of the biggest questions I put to James (but certainly not the only one) was how he would like his eventual legacy to be seen and thought of by fans in years to come. Like with every question, James’ answer was as honest and refreshing as it was contemplative. He said:
“I just want to make sure that my future fighting career is something that future fighters can look up to and aspire to and motivate the next generation. You have to consider the trajectory of the fight game in the next 20 years from now…I want it to go down a respectful path, where it’s like any sport, where people can take it home to their family and children and enjoy it.”
Make sure to check out the rest of this interview. James Yang is a truly fantastic example to the world of MMA, and his answers are incredibly reflective of the person offering them. Check out his ONE debut against Roel Rosauro at ONE: “Revolution” as well!
Will you be watching James Yang make his professional debut on September 24?