Mixed martial arts superstar Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will make his ONE Championship debut in Japan against Yuya Wakamatsu, the organization announced on Thursday.
The bout was one of the first six announced in a release for ONE’s first-ever event in Japan, which is set for March 31 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Johnson, a former UFC flyweight champion who was named the top fighter of 2017 by Bleacher Report, Bloody Elbow and at the ESPY Awards, moved to ONE from UFC in October.
“It’s a huge move on my part, for my career,” Johnson said during an October conference call immediately after making the switch. “I’m looking to come over to Asia and test my skills against the best in the flyweight division.”
The 32-year-old American, who defended the UFC flyweight title a record 11 consecutive times, has a 27-3-1 career record.
Wakamatsu, a 23-year-old from Kagoshima Prefecture, has a 10-3 record. He was called “one of the most exciting flyweight prospects,” by website MMA Weekly after he signed with ONE in August. Wakamatsu made his debut during the company’s Sept. 22 event in Jakarta, losing a decision against Danny Kingad.
The card will also see Japanese great Shinya Aoki face lightweight champion Eduard Folayang of the Philippines with the belt on the line.
Aoki, a veteran nicknamed Tobikan Judan, or “Grand Master of Flying Submissions,” will be looking for revenge after being TKO’d by Folayang in their last bout on Nov. 11, 2016. Aoki has won his last three fights, two via submission.
Ken Hasegawa will also be seeking to avenge a defeat when he meets Aung La N Sang, who hails from Myanmar and is nicknamed “The Burmese Python.” Sang won a dramatic bout between the two in June that left both fighters bloodied, bruised and exhausted. Sang ended that fight with an uppercut in the final round.
Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, another former UFC champion, will be joining Johnson in making in his in-ring debut for ONE in Japan. He’ll face Russian Timofey Nastyukhi.
The company’s recent acquisitions of Johnson and Alvarez drew immediate attention from many MMA observers.
“I’ve done everything I can over there (UFC),” Johnson said during the aforementioned conference call. “I think me coming to ONE Championship there’s a lot of new goals, a lot of fresh things a lot of fresh matchups. The guys in Asia, they’ve been doing it since they were 3, 4 years old, so they bring a different style of mixed martial arts to the table.”
In the women’s division, atomweight champion Angela Lee will take on Xiong Jing-nan. Lee is a perfect 9-0 in her career. She defeated Mei Yamaguchi via unanimous decision in her last fight in May. Xiong is 13-1 overall and has won her last eight fights.