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Chatri Sityodtong: Adriano Moraes-Demetrious Johnson clash determines the flyweight GOAT

The title bout headlines ONE on Prime Video 1, which streams live in North American primetime Friday night.
adriano-moraes-demetrious-johnson-1

The ONE Championship flyweight title is on the line when reigning champ Adriano Moraes and former UFC kingpin Demetrious Johnson meet in a rematch at this weekend's ONE on Prime Video 1, but Chatri Sityodtong believes there's more at stake than just a belt.

Sityodtong, ONE Championship founder and CEO, believes the winner walks away with the right to claim status as the greatest flyweight in MMA history.

"If Adriano beats DJ again, I do think you can consider him the flyweight GOAT on the planet, for sure," Sityodtong said at Thursday's pre-fight press conference in Singapore.

Moraes (20-3) and Johnson (23-4-1) have long been considered among the absolute flyweights in the sport. Johnson's reign as UFC champion was more prominent for North American fans, earning the company's inaugural title in 2012 and then subsequently defending it an astounding 11 times, a mark that remains a record for UFC champions, before finally ceding it to Henry Cejudo in 2018. Johnson then left the UFC to sign with ONE.

Meanwhile, Moraes has been competing largely in Asia during his three reigns as titleholder for the Singapore-based ONE Championship, notching appearances in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines during his nine years with the promotion.

The two first met in 2021, after Johnson had claimed victory in an eight-man flyweight grand prix, and it was Moraes who emerged victorious, defending the ONE flyweight title via second-round knockout and becoming the first man to defeat "Mighty Mouse" via stoppage.

"For DJ to get finished here, I don't think anyone was expecting it," Sityodtong said. "I think people were expecting DJ to come here and dominate, and he's actually had the toughest fights of his career."

In the time since that first meeting, Moraes was able to notch another defense of his title, while Johnson was victorious in a mixed-rules matchup with muay Thai legend Rodtang Jitmuangnon. Now Moraes and Johnson meet for a second time in the main event of ONE's debut on streaming giant Amazon Prime Video.

The bout takes place Saturday morning at Singapore Indoor Stadium but streams live in North American primetime Friday night (8 p.m. ET) due to the time difference.

Despite the setback in their first meeting, Johnson said he didn't feel a need to make massive adjustments ahead of the rematch.

"My style never changes," Johnson said. "My style is always to come forward, and in mixed martial arts, the way I was brought up in this sport, it's supposed to be a clash, right? A struggle, just like in wrestling. There's always a struggle between two human beings, so for me, go out there, push the pace and just fight."

Meanwhile, the first win over Johnson was certainly the most notable of Moraes' career and gained the Brazilian veteran newfound respect among many North American MMA fans and observers who had not been closely following his accomplishments overseas. However, oddsmakers still have the champion pegged as a slight underdog heading into the second meeting.

For his part, "Mikinho" doesn't believe there's any added pressure for him to repeat the feat in the ONE on Prime Video 1 headliner.

"I don't think I have anything to prove," Moraes said. "Of course, I'm an MMA fighter. I like to challenge myself, and as a champion, I'll just go there and defend my belt against whoever they put in front of me. I need to be ready to defend my throne."

The immediate stakes to this matchup are clear: The gold belt currently around Moraes' waist will be up for grabs. But for Sityodtong, at least, history hangs in the balance, as well.

"Today, the GOAT for me is DJ," Sityodtong said. "No one's ever done what he's done, ever, in the prior organization, defending his title 11 times. I think if Adriano wins, he is the GOAT."

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.