The biggest Flyweight trilogy of all time goes down tonight at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes 3. Let's examine the history between these two elite fighters ahead of their highly anticipated trilogy.
In 2018, Demetrious Johnson headed into his twelfth consecutive title defense of his UFC Championship but was shockingly defeated by Henry Cejudo via split decision. Johnson departed the promotion after this loss and multiple contractual disputes with the UFC. He joined ONE Championship in November 2018, participating in the eight-man Flyweight Grand Prix. The winner earned the right to challenge for the ONE Flyweight Championship vs. the reigning Champion, Adriano Moraes. After successfully defeating Yuya Wakamatsu, Tatsumitsu Wada, and Danny Kingad, Johnson challenged Moraes for the title on April 7th, 2021.
Adriano Moraes was on the third reign of his Flyweight Championship and was looking to make his third overall title defense. He had been dethroned twice by Kairat Akhmetov and Geje Eustaquio, losing both bouts by split decision. But Moraes had avenged both of these defeats to reclaim his title. After a competitive first round, Moraes would drop Johnson in the second round with an uppercut and finish him with a devastating grounded knee.
In the aftermath of the bout, Moraes expressed his love and respect for DJ, and the two were both class acts following the bout.
Following their bout in April 2021, both men would return in March 2022. Johnson entered a special "mixed rules" bout against Muay Thai phenom Rodtang Jitmuangnon, where two would fight two rounds of Muay Thai and two rounds of MMA. He would finish Jitmuangnon in the second round with a rear-naked choke. Meanwhile, Moraes defended his title once against Yuya Wakamatsu, finishing the fight in the third with a guillotine choke. Following these victories, the rematch between the two was announced to headline ONE on Prime Video 1.
The rematch took place on August 27th, 2022, and this time the odds were near even, a stark contrast to beforehand, where Johnson came in as a -700 favorite. In the first and second rounds, the two would exchange in highly technical striking battles, where neither man pulled ahead. However, Moraes would use his weight and grappling advantage to secure control time over Johnson. In the third, Johnson pressed the action more and avoided the takedowns of the Champion, leading to a more substantial round for him. And in the fourth, DJ would rock Moraes with a huge right hand on the feet, which sent him stumbling back into the cage. When Moraes hit the cage, DJ followed up with a lethal flying knee and knocked the Champion unconscious to claim the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
With this victory, Demetrious Johnson had become Champion for the first time since 2018, and Moraes had been dethroned for the third time as a Champion. This victory brought the rivalry between the two to 1-1, with both men claiming knee finishes over the other.
Now, it's time for the trilogy. Tonight, Adriano Moraes will look to recapture his title against the Flyweight GOAT Demetrious Johnson in the biggest trilogy in Flyweight history. Will Johnson secure what could be his final victory and ride off into the sunset? Or Will Moraes spoil the retirement party and upset the odds yet again? Either way, as a member of the Verdict Community, let us know your prediction in the comments below.