Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada will meet Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines with a slot in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finals on the line.
Going up against arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in history would rattle any athlete, yet Wada remains completely unfazed.
“This is actually the least pressure I’ve felt in the past few years,” he said.
“I’ve had fights in the past that I couldn’t lose, but, I think the only thing you can do is to train and go into the fight with a positive mindset.”
Wada is coming off a unanimous decision win in the quarter-finals against Gustavo Balart at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, which led to a matchup with “Mighty Mouse”, a legendary 12-time flyweight mixed martial arts World Champion.
“As everyone knows, Demetrious Johnson’s striking and grappling are the best of the best,” said Wada.
“While he is a legend, he’s still in the prime of his career, and so in that sense, for me, he is someone I’d like to challenge myself against and see what I’m capable of. I’m looking forward to learning what mixed martial arts is all about from him.”
Though his goal is to win a World Title, Wada believes a win over Johnson would be just as satisfying.
“World Grand Prix aside, I would be satisfied if I beat Demetrious Johnson. That’s my ultimate goal. After that, I’d focus on my next fight,” he said.
“World Title matches are important to me. Of course, I’m participating in ONE because a part of me wants to become World Champion, but I feel there is more value in defeating Demetrious Johnson.”
The 32-year-old Johnson won in the first round of the tournament by submitting Yuya Wakamatsu. In that bout, there were a few times when Wakamatsu hit Johnson with some solid shots. Wada believes he found a weakness in Johnson’s game that he can take advantage of.
“I don’t want to say in too much detail, but I believe he is better than me in physical ability and technique,” he explained.
“With that being said, I also believe there are certain aspects where we match up. Yes, he does have a weakness, but I definitely don’t want to say what it is. It’s top secret.”
Wada is a well rounded mixed martial arts athlete, but his main strength is his grappling. And because of his size and reach, he could pose problems for Johnson in striking. With those factors considered, Wada is confident he will not only beat Johnson and advance to the finals but also finish the American and shock the world.
“If I were to win, I think it would only be by TKO, so that’s what I’m betting on,” he said.