At ONE Fight Night 10, Demetrious Johnson’s trilogy against Adriano Moraes comes to a close.

In what is undoubtedly the most significant and appropriate contest of his career, the first king of flyweights approaches the conclusion of a great career.

One of the last remaining purists in mixed martial arts is Demetrious Johnson. Unfortunately, prizefighting does not always fully integrate martial arts. That’s why it’s so poetic that the flyweight title trilogy, which is based on rivalry, skill, and respect, is being offered by the underdog of the sport’s most underdog class at ONE Fight Night 10.

A stigma is frequently attached to leaving the UFC. When a fighter leaves an organization, they are frequently referred to as “has-beens” or “never-weres.” Fighters occasionally remake themselves in novel environments. But in contemporary MMA, a fighter who is arguably the best rarely, if ever, leaves the UFC to continue their success elsewhere. Johnson is a unique aberration.

Following a contentious split decision loss to Henry Cejudo in 2018, Johnson was exchanged to ONE Championship for Ben Askren. Even though “Mighty Mouse” never attained the crossover superstar status like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, it was an odd turn for him. Johnson still owns the record for the most continuous and successful title defenses in UFC history (11) regardless of weight class, having soundly defeated Cejudo in their previous meeting. The best treatment isn’t always given to people who let their actions speak for them, however how loud those acts may be, especially in a promotion that honors the gift of gab.

In the days leading up to his fight against Moraes on Friday in Broomfield, Colorado, Johnson said, “I think the uncertain part was if they were really going to release me from my contract.” But regardless of whether I joined Bellator, Rizin, or ONE Championship, I felt confident in my ability to succeed because I’m a workhorse. This horse is still alive. This horse is still active and continues to perform superbly.

“In my opinion, you have to fight for multiple organizations to be one of the best in the world.”

And while Johnson’s knockout defeat to Moraes in April 2021 raised questions about his reputation as the best, his comeback victory in their rematch in August 2022 quieted rumors that he was past his prime. The only knockout losses in either fighter’s career came in the first two encounters between the two, both by knee.

Johnson remarked, “I don’t like that fact, but it is what it is. When you go through a trilogy, it implies he won once. I would have definitely chosen two and zero, but we are in this situation.

“Throughout the entire build-up to the trilogy bout, my goal has been to defeat Adriano and knock him out. But as soon as the hands are raised, the scorecards are read, or either I or him wakes up, we’re done, and I’m out of the cage, I go on to the next business opportunity.

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Johnson, who is about to compete in his 30th professional match, anticipates retiring before his first trilogy. If Johnson decides to end his career on Friday, he may go so as a multiple world champion. It’s a degree of glory that is only saved for a select few, such as Georges St-Pierre, another contender for the title of “greatest of all-time” in a sport where veterans’ bones are frequently found lying on their backs.

The light at the end of the tunnel is visible to me. I won’t lie, I’ve discussed it with my wife,” Johnson remarked. I have some inquiries for myself. When I perceive it or feel it, I will respond, “OK, I’m good.”

I won’t remove my gloves, throw it in the ring, or do any of that nonsense. Just let me say, “I’m good.” It was enjoyable, boys. To attempt and make some money, you guys can fight each other. I’ll leave and try to find other sources of income.

In their first encounter, Johnson was defeated by a knockout by Moraes, who was defending his flyweight title. However, one could argue that Moraes’ status was improved by the second fight. Johnson’s retaliation confirmed his status as one of the world’s top flyweights. They were both competitive fighters. By extension, Moraes is now quite awesome. Johnson has only ever been defeated once, by Moraes. His opportunity to defeat “Mighty Mouse” has now doubled.

“I never imagined that I would face Demetrious Johnson, and now I’m aiming for my third victory over him. It’s slightly insane… We are here to build history together, so that’s why I’m excited. It is a privilege for me to contribute to the Demetrious Johnson legacy. He should, in my opinion, also be a part of my legacy. Two of the world’s top flyweights are likely to square off once more.