A flyweight championship bout between Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson was moved from China to Indonesia and then to the Philippines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the undisputed ONE Championship king is still hoping it goes down on May 9.
Moraes, who was originally preparing to face the former UFC legend on April 11, has been training at home since American Top Team closed its doors in Florida amid the new coronavirus outbreak. With a stay-at-home order now in effect for the entire state for at least 30 days, Moraes will have to continue like that for a while.
“It has been postponed for May 29 in Philippines, but we don’t know if that will come to fruition,” Moraes told MMA Fighting.
With two months to go before the event, he believes “everything will be alright, will go back to normal, and we’ll be able to fight in Manila” despite the fact that Philippines recorded 2,311 cases and 96 deaths caused by the coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Training at home to stay in shape and using his time off to meditate and study English, “Mikinho” lost a good source of income when he had to stop teaching private classes in the gym. That said, Moraes will “keep his mind strong and continue doing what has to be done” to prepare for his upcoming title defense.
“We were born for this,” he said of his fighting career. “We have to be careful, of course, but we can’t sit down and get anxious while waiting for a better world. We have to keep moving.
“I keep training here because this fight might happen anywhere in the world, and I have to be ready, doesn’t matter if there will be people watching it there or not. I’ll be ready to fight him on May 29.”
Fighting a legend like “Mighty Mouse” is a huge opportunity that “made everything worthy,” he said, and it’s a fight that makes sense. Johnson earned a shot at Moraes’ belt after winning the ONE flyweight grand prix in his first year in the promotion, but the reigning titleholder feels he’s been overlooked.
“I’m feeling exactly like Amanda Nunes when she fought Ronda Rousey,” Moraes said. “Amanda was defending her title, but Ronda was the one pampered by the media and others. It’s the same thing to me. I also expect all this to end the exact same way [laughs].”
The 30-year-old American Top Team product won nine of 12 under the ONE Championship banner and holds a 18-3 record in the sport with every single one of his losses coming by split decision. No matter how his next fight goes, “Mikinho” believes he will be matched up against Johnson once again in 2020.
“I believe that, regardless of who comes out as champion, whoever loses will deserve a rematch,” Moraes said. “Why now? We’re two great athletes who won a lot of gold, and I believe a rematch will be indisputable. A win over him puts me as one of the best flyweights in the world and helps me for future projects, too.”
The last ONE Championship event was held behind closed doors in Asia due to the new coronavirus pandemic, and Moraes pictures an interesting scenario if they have to go on without fans in the arena.
“It looked like those old gang fights,” Moraes said with a laugh. “You bring your crew and I bring mine and we both meet in the center. You can hear your cornermen better. It brings that old vale tudo vibe, those behind closed doors challenges in the gym.”