Demetrious Johnson was handed the first knockout defeat of his career in his ONE Championship flyweight title fight against Adriano Moraes on Wednesday night.
In another major shock for the promotion, fellow former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez was controversially disqualified in his fight against Iuri Lapicus for allegedly aiming shots to the back of the head.
Johnson was knocked out by a vicious knee from Moraes on Wednesday night[/caption]
Pound-for-pound great Johnson is one of the best fighters in the history of the game as he left the UFC in 2018 after 11 title defences across a glittering six-year period.
Yet he was brutally stopped for the first time in his career as Moraes outlined his championship credentials with a savage right uppercut to stun ‘Mighty Mouse’ before a knee to the face.
Although illegal in the United States, ONE Championship allows knees to grounded opponents and Moraes capitalised on his stricken opponent.
Johnson had called for the use of knees in the UFC for years before quitting the promotion, and just last month tweeting his feelings about how he felt the rules should be changed.
With ONE Championship debuting on American network TNT for the first time, the newly-captivated audience would have endured further dismay at seeing former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion disqualified after just 58 seconds.
Having secured a takedown against Lapicus, ‘The Underground King’ began to unleash a torrent of punches to his downed opponent – yet the referee deemed them to be to the back of the head.
Alvarez had not fought since August 2019 and was visibly distraught at the end of the contest, with his emotional plea capturing the hearts of fans afterwards.
“Iuri was turning his head the other way and the ref warned me,” Alvarez said in a post-fight interview with Mitch Chilson.
“He said to me, ‘Back of the head Eddie’, so you see me take my hand and start shoving his head toward my punch.
Alvarez was disqualified for allegedly hitting Lapicus around the back of the head[/caption]
“As long as it’s the ear, it’s legal, but you guys put me in a cage, the referee’s here … whatever call he makes, I apologise.
“I hope Iuri is totally fine because this game is so dangerous,” Alvarez added, choking back tears.
“And all I care about is that everybody in here sincerely is safe and can go back to their family when they’re done.
“I’m praying for Iuri but you put me in a cage, I don’t know what to do in here. I’m trying to survive. You got to respect the ref’s call but I’m doing my best in here. Prayers go out to Iuri right now.
“I apologise, honestly, I just jeep thinking of Iuri on a stretcher because I’ve been on that side before and it’s kind of messing me up. I just got to know Iuri’s fine.
“American fans, this is what we promise, they put two guys in a steel cage, what do you want? The ref’s here to do it and he did his best job, so the call’s the call.”