Despite coming into the fight as the reigning ONE flyweight champion, Moraes was a decided underdog to Johnson, who was one of the promotion’s biggest additions after a historic trade brought him over in exchange for Ben Askren going to the UFC. None of that seemed to bother Moraes, who showed confidence throughout the fight until he finally connected with an uppercut and a huge knee that demolished Johnson with the fight ending at just 2:24 in the second round.
It was the first time in Johnson’s legendary career that he’s ever been finished by strikes.
“This is a dream come true,” Moraes said after the win. “I’m really working hard every single day. I don’t have the words to describe this moment. We did it. I grew up watching DJ fighting. He’s a legend. I knew exactly his game. Me and my team did the perfect strategy to fight against him. I got to him with a good uppercut. I’m so excited.”
“It’s not a surprise for me. I’m working with the best guys in the world. Today worked out.”
With a sizable reach advantage, Moraes was looking to keep Johnson at a distance early but the former UFC champion worked his way inside where he looked to engage with the Brazilian in the clinch. A scramble resulted in the fighters going to the ground and Moraes was able to use his size to reverse positions and spend the final minute of the opening round on top of Johnson, peppering away with strikes.
As the second round got started, Johnson was more aggressive in his approach as he continued to look to shut down the reach advantage for Moraes, who was constantly pawing at him from the outside.
Johnson’s attempt to get inside ultimately backfired after he got into an exchange with Moraes and the reigning ONE flyweight champion unloaded a perfectly timed uppercut that sent “Mighty Mouse” down to the canvas.
That’s when Moraes blasted Johnson with a massive knee strike while he was still on the ground — a move that’s completely legal in the ONE Championship ruleset — and following a few more punches, the referee rushed into stop the contest.
Afterwards, Johnson paid Moraes credit for a job well done while still needing more time to watch the tape again to understand exactly what went wrong.
“I’ve got to go back home and look at the fight to see where I made the mistakes,” Johnson said. “He’s very long, big, I was trying to get to him but it’s part of the game. You’re in the game so long, it’s bound to happen one of these days.”
Johnson falls to 30-4-1 in his career with the loss while Moraes solidifies himself as the top flyweight in ONE Championship in his third reign with the title while undoubtedly earning the biggest win of his career.