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Demetrious Johnson talks ONE X win, expects summer return

Demetrious Johnson discusses how he got his impressive win over Rodtang Jitmuangnon at ONE X.
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Demetrious Johnson reminded the mixed martial arts world of his brilliance Saturday, defeating Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a special-rules bout in the co-main event of ONE X at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The special-rules bout was a mixed-rules matchup featuring alternating rounds of muay Thai and MMA. ONE ruled that the first round would be muay Thai, and Rodtang opened the fight aggressively and on the offensive.

"Me and my team, we know what we signed up for," Johnson says. "My team at AMC got me well prepared for the battle with Rodtang. He is great, so I knew I needed to bring my best."

Johnson survived the opening round, but his patient approach helped him win the fight. He dominated the next round, which was MMA, avoiding a strike and then landing a takedown. The end was inevitable once Johnson took Rodtang’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke submission.

The referee called the bout once Rodtang passed out two minutes and 13 seconds into the second round, ending any potential for this fight to return to muay Thai rules in the following round.

"It always feels good to win," Johnson says. "We put so much time and effort into training camp to be able to compete with his striking. The goal was to just be mindful of distance, control and not take a bad shot. And when it came to the MMA round, it was time to be very aggressive with the submission attack.

"Once I locked the rear-naked choke, I didn’t necessarily know that was going to end it. I was just going to squeeze until the ref pulled me off or the round ended."

The win is impressive for Johnson, as Rodtang operates in a league of his own as ONE's reigning muay Thai world champion. But while it is a common sight to see Johnson victorious after a fight, it is rare to watch him fight without a title on the line. The former UFC flyweight champ – who successfully defended that belt on eleven separate occasions – is still seeking gold in ONE.

Johnson lost 11 months ago to reigning flyweight champ Adriano Moraes, who was also victorious on the ONE X card, when a vicious knee knocked him out. But he remains the top-ranked flyweight in the division. With ONE announcing its new U.S. media rights deal next month, it is fair to speculate Johnson will be featured prominently in the first U.S. show.

For now, however, the future can wait until Johnson gets some rest following his long flight home from Singapore.

"Heading home and getting much needed rest is my plan," Johnson says. "Then I’ll get back to straight MMA. I expect to be back in action this summer. Can’t say when yet, but it’s going to be soon."

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.