Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will meet Tatsumitsu Wada in the semifinal of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. At this rate, Johnson could very well advance to the final and may have an easier time in this round than he had in the previous one.
The winner of the tournament will most likely receive a shot at reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes.
Kairat Ahkmetov defeated Reece McLaren via unanimous decision in one of the quarterfinal matchups to set up a clash against Danny Kingad, who downed Senzo Ikeda. But Akhmetov, unfortunately, fell to injury, so McLaren stepped up into his place.
Wakamatsu’s strength and athleticism proved to be an asset in the first round. He landed a hard punch on Johnson’s face that caused some light swelling. It seemed Johnson took control most of the first round, but the struggle was a little more real than most expected. However, in the second round, Johnson’s grappling prowess was on display. The pound-for-pound great locked in a guillotine choke that forced the young Japanese warrior to tap out.
Wada had an even tougher time with Balart than Johnson did with Wakamatsu. Facing a man with unique physical dimensions and outstanding wrestling skills proved to be a bit of a challenge for Wada. He traded shots with the Olympic wrestler and wound up taking the decision to qualify for the next phase. It’s easy to say that if Wada had problems with Balart, then he will be destroyed by Johnson. That’s oversimplifying the matchup. Styles make fights, and it’s more complicated.
Johnson will have an easier time against Wada, but it has nothing to do with the result of the bout with Balart. Wada isn’t a big striker, and it’s tough for any opponent who doesn’t pack a ton of power in their fists to create issues for Johnson. If you look at Johnson’s past opponents who have given him the most issues, the majority of them are formidable strikers, Wakamatsu included. In 34 professional mixed martial arts bouts, Wada has scored only five wins by technical knockout. Not having the power to fall back on puts a lot of pressure on the other aspects of Wada’s game.
Speaking of which, he also hasn’t proved yet he is a great submission artist. He has just five finishes in his career via submission, and 10 total stoppage wins. Wada is a martial artist who gets a good number of his wins by decision. That’s a tough thing to do against an opponent as skilled, experienced and dynamic as Johnson. Sure, Henry Cejudo did it but is Wada on Cejudo’s level? That’s something we’ll find out soon.
One of the significant factors that I believe will impact the result of this match is Johnson’s comfort level with ONE’s weight management system. Athletes go into matches much healthier and hydrated, but the weight classes are a little different than what Johnson was used to in the past. The athletes are a bit bigger and stronger in each weight class, and that’s something that Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt may have found out the hard way.
Both Alvarez and Northcutt lost via first-round TKO in their ONE debuts as they looked overwhelmed with the power of Timofey Nastyuhkin and Cosmo Alexandre, respectively. Johnson felt a little of that difference with Wakamatsu, but because Mighty Mouse belongs to the most elite class of martial artists in the world, he was able to adjust. Now with an entire match under his belt and with a whole training camp to prepare for the process, Johnson will be even better than he was against Wakamatsu, which spells bad news for Wada.
Johnson has competed against some of the best the weight division has to offer in the sport. While Wada has faced some good competition, the experience, skill, and overall athleticism are all in Johnson’s favor. Expect a first-round finish with very little trouble for Johnson.
Johnson-Wada has been announced for ONE: DAWN OF HEROES, August 2 in Manila. If that stays on track, we’ll see the final in Tokyo at ONE: CENTURY.
The winner could then face Moraes in the spring. It remains to be seen if Moraes will have a title defense sometime in between. As it stands, he hasn’t competed since January when he won back his ONE Flyweight World Title via unanimous decision over his rival Geje Eustaquio.