In the historic ONE: A New Era card which takes place this 31 March in Tokyo, Japan, local hero Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu will answer the call of greatness as he takes on 12-time Flyweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
The two square off in the quarter-final round of the highly-anticipated ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.
Johnson, one of the most popular mixed martial arts athletes in the world, is making his ONE Championship debut after having joined the promotion late last year.
Although he holds Johnson in high regard, Wakamatsu remains unfazed as he plans to rock the cage at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan arena. The Japanese knockout artist has no qualms in challenging Johnson head-to-head for three rounds.
“I think becoming World Champion 12 times is amazing,” said Wakamatsu.
“But I’m not afraid of him. He is also a human. If my punch hits him, I can KO him.”
News of Johnson joining ONE Championship galvanized the entire mixed martial arts world. His debut this March is drawing lots of attention, including the rest of the athletes of the ONE flyweight division.
Wakamatsu himself feels destined for victory, given that the bout will take place in front of his hometown crowd where his friends and family members, and thousands of Japanese fans will no doubt be cheering him on.
“This match will be in Japan, so I think it’s made for me,” said the 24-year-old.
“It is a big chance for a guy like me who doesn’t have any belts, because I was a carpenter in Kagoshima until very recently. If a guy like me who used to work a normal job wins against a World Champion, I think I will be a superstar.”
Johnson’s mastery of every discipline in mixed martial arts is what helped him dominate in the sport, garnering him a professional record of 27-3, which includes 11 consecutive title defense over a six year stretch.
Undeterred by his opponent’s achievements, Wakamatsu is confident with his immense knockout power that can stop any flyweight in his tracks.
“I have confidence that I can beat him if my punch hits him,” the Japanese athlete offers.
“I think nobody thinks I can win. People say that I can win to be polite. I know other Asian athletes are thinking, ‘Why Wakamatsu?’ But I think I can make something happen. I will certainly win.”
Wakamatsu is brimming with confidence with less three weeks out. If he manages to somehow pull off the impossible and defeat Johnson, he will not only advance in the tournament, but will also no doubt make headlines around the globe.
“This is the biggest chance of my life. I just need to do my best against Johnson in Japan. I think this is fate. A miracle can happen. I can prove to the world that MMA in Japan is strong,” Wakamatsu concluded.