Filipino mixed martial arts sensation Lito “The Thunder Kid” Adiwang is only in his sophomore year in ONE Championship, but he’s already taken the promotion by storm.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the elite levels of the sport, Adiwang believes he has what it takes to hang with the best, and that includes taking on the legendary Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson should the opportunity present itself.
“Yes, it’s been my dream to fight Demetrious Johnson since I started training in martial arts. He’s been one of my idols in this sport. I want to test myself against the best in the world, and DJ is it,” said Adiwang.
After graduating from Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series in early 2019, Adiwang made an immediate impact in the ONE Circle, stopping highly-regarded opponents Senzo Ikeda and Pongsiri Mitsatit in a pair of exciting contests.
“I know I’m new to the game, and just arrived in ONE Championship. But if given the chance to fight DJ now, I’d take it. I’ll be ready with a great game plan.”
Spending years competing in North America, becoming the 12-time former UFC flyweight world champion, Johnson joined ONE Championship in late 2018, and made his debut with the promotion shortly after.
He scored a submission victory over Yuya Wakamatsu in his promotional debut in March 2019, and followed up with a victory over Tatsumitsu Wada months later. Johnson then went on to beat Adiwang’s Team Lakay teammate Danny Kingad by unanimous decision in the final round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, winning the tournament.
Adiwang believes he can confidently deal with the American if they ever lock horns.
“DJ has great cage control. He can dictate the pace of the game and loves to put on pressure. He knows exactly how he can maneuver his opponents to fall into his traps, and he can transition quickly to take advantage of them. That’s what he’s really good at,” said Adiwang.
“As far as weaknesses go, he doesn’t have many. But one thing I think he has a hard time with is fighting backwards. I’ve analyzed some of the fights he lost, and opponents were always on the attack. He has a tough time dealing with pressure, especially against hard-hitting opponents.”
Adiwang is currently fixated on facing the best that strawweight has to offer in ONE Championship, and a move to flyweight is nowhere near on his radar. He’s rumored to be facing the number two-ranked Yoshitaka Naito next, and “The Thunder Kid” has even called out the former Japanese world champion.
It also may be too early for Adiwang to take on an athlete of Johnson’s caliber this early in his rise through the ranks. But with a few more wins under his belt, Adiwang could get the call soon enough. As such, the young Team Lakay prospect promises to be fully ready to face Johnson if and when he gets the chance.
For now, Adiwang is content with keeping this dream bout within reach by beating everyone put in front of him.
“Nevertheless, the requirement to beat DJ is full focus for the entire bout, being constantly on the attack and unleashing sharp counters. When you keep him on the back foot, it becomes harder for him to impose his will,” said Adiwang.
“That being said, beating DJ isn’t easy by any means. It’s fun to think about these matchups, and I really love fighting. I just want to fight the best, so bring them on.”
Since his professional career began in 2012, Adiwang has amassed a 91% close rate across 11 victories, including eight first round finishes. Due to his explosive, fan-friendly style, Adiwang is today one of the fastest rising stars in mixed martial arts, and is currently ranked fifth at strawweight in the official ONE Championship athlete rankings.
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