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Demetrious Johnson nearing retirement, says next fight could be his last

ONE Championship

In March 2021, Demetrious Johnson told theScore he wanted to compete in professional mixed martial arts for four more years.

Based on that plan, Johnson would now have two years left before retirement. At the time, he was set to challenge Adriano Moraes for the ONE Championship flyweight title. He ended up losing that fight by knockout, his first-ever stoppage defeat in 12 years and 28 fights as a pro. But Johnson got revenge in a rematch with Moraes last August, winning the ONE belt by fourth-round knockout.

Last week, theScore reminded Johnson, 36, about the four-year retirement timeline he had laid out and asked for an update - if he was sticking to it, if he would indeed keep fighting for two more years. The former UFC champion and future Hall of Famer smiled, but it was the kind of smile that said, "Absolutely not." When he answered the question, there was no hesitation whatsoever.

"That's not f-----g happening," Johnson said. "I'll tell you that: That's not happening. F--k no."

Johnson is scheduled to defend his ONE flyweight title for the first time against Moraes on May 5, in what will be the first trilogy bout of his illustrious MMA career. The fight will headline ONE Fight Night 10 in Broomfield, Colorado, the first ONE event on U.S. soil. And Johnson isn't ruling out it being his final MMA appearance.

"It could be," Johnson said. "You never know."

The man affectionately known as "Mighty Mouse" has done it all in MMA. He is the inaugural UFC flyweight champion; owns the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history (11); and is tied with Jon Jones for most title defenses overall (11). He also won the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix and has beaten the who's who of his generation of flyweights, from Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson to Henry Cejudo and Kyoji Horiguchi.

A second win over Moraes would put Johnson on the shortlist of fighters who have defended titles in two major promotions, another accomplishment on his never-ending list. But continuing to add to his legacy isn't why he's still fighting. He's already one of the all-time greats. He's still around because he wants to provide for his wife Destiny and three children.

"I talk to my close friends who don't do mixed martial arts and they're like, 'What else are you trying to prove?'" Johnson said. "And I'm like, 'I'm trying to get this money, I'm trying to get this bag.'"

As much as he wants to maximize his earnings, he also wants to spend more time with his family. That's why he plans to reevaluate his future after the Moraes fight.

"Right now, the kids are at the beach, having a good time, enjoying life, feeding seals, and that's stuff that I'm missing," Johnson said. "My kids will only be nine, eight, and four once.

"I think after this fight, I'll decide what I want to do. I want to compete in IBJJF in my Gi and work toward my black belt. ... But I don't want to fight for two more years. I have no interest. When I hear two more years, I'm like, 'Ew, that sounds horrible.'"

Of course, money talks. Johnson admitted it himself. That's why he isn't making any promises one way or another.

But the last thing he wants to do is stick around longer than he should.

"I've been doing this for 18 years - ever since I was 18 years old," Johnson said. "At some point, if you stay at the party for too long, you end up drunk. I don't want to get drunk."

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