Despite the clear damage one such strike did to him, Demetrious Johnson still thinks kneeing a downed opponent should be legal.
The rule is illegal in the UFC, where we recently saw Petr Yan lose his bantamweight title to Aljamain Sterling after he kneed him while he was grounded, resulting in a disqualification.
However, in ONE Championship, where Johnson currently competes, the strike is legal. “Mighty Mouse” tweeted his support of the ruleset right after the Yan vs. Sterling fight, suggesting that the strike should be allowed.
Ironically, Johnson (30-4-1) was on the receiving end of a knee to the head while downed when he was knocked out by ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes (19-3) at ONE on TNT I on Wednesday. It was the first time Johnson has been stopped in his career, but despite the loss, has no problems with ONE’s ruleset.
“I like these rules,” Johnson said following the fight. “Like I said, it’s a progression of a fight. I went down on my back. I was coming up for an underhook, Adriano had me posted, he blasted a knee, the fight’s over, it’s done, I don’t get anymore concussions. It’s just done, and it was a different position than I’ve been in. Adriano did a good job of using his length. He fully extended me and landed the knee.”
He continued, “Like I said, it ended the fight. I wasn’t stalling one bit. I was trying to get up and fight, and I got blasted with a knee. My very first fight in ONE Championship, I did it to Yuya Wakamatsu and ended up getting the finish. The rule is meant to be there to keep the fight progressing and end the fight. So if Adriano wasn’t able to land that knee, yes, I would have still been in that fight, so he would have had to do something totally different. I’m totally content with what happened. I’m not like, ‘That rule should be taken out.’ That’s what the rule was, Adriano used it to his advantage, and I was on the other end of the stick.”
After the loss, Johnson expressed his interest in potentially dabbling in a kickboxing match. While he hasn’t necessarily given up on his quest for the belt, the former UFC flyweight king likes that he’s able to experiment with different alternatives at ONE.
“One of the reasons that I came to ONE Championship is that I have options,” Johnson said. “If I want to do a kickboxing match, I can do that. Obviously yes, I can go back into mixed martial arts and work my way back up to a title shot, but I’m just going to go home and just chill and relax and ‘What do I want to do next; would you like to try your hand at kickboxing?’
“Maybe I try kickboxing and I go out there and get the brakes blown off me, but at the end of the day, it’s about trying and exploring. You get one career. You get one career, and I want to make the best of it and to be able to say I’ve done a professional kickboxing under ONE Championship would be dope. So I’m going to go home, relax, let my body heal, and go from there.”