Aljamain Sterling and Demetrious Johnson still disagree on whether knees to a downed fighter should be legal, even after Johnson fell victim to the maneuver on Wednesday.
Following Aljamain Sterling’s DQ victory over Petr Yan to become the new UFC bantamweight champion, one of the many people who weighed in on the controversial win was Demetrious Johnson. Johnson argued that knees to a downed fighter should be legal so that fighters cannot stall the fight. Due to the timing of Johnson’s take, Sterling couldn’t help but read between the lines and consider it to be a veiled accusation that he was stalling in the fight against Yan. Sterling issued a heated response to Johnson and has continued to argue in favor of the rule that illegalizes knees to a down opponent.
Then, in a textbook case of irony, Demetrious Johnson was finished for the first time in his career by a knee while he was a downed fighter. The flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes, was thus able to retain the title and hand Mighty Mouse his first loss in ONE Championship. After the loss, Aljamain Sterling gave his reaction to the ironic turn of events:
“This is why knees to downed opponents are vicious and ILLEGAL in MMA in the UFC! If this was the USA that knee is not allowed and Mighty Mouse can get up in a more safe and protective manner.
“I hope Mighty Mouse is ok, but this is why I disagree with those rules. #ONEonTNT1”
Demetrious Johnson’s Stance Remains Unchanged After Loss
You can call Demetrious Johnson many things: an avid gamer, one of the best competitors MMA has ever seen, the consensus greatest flyweight in the history of the sport, the list goes on and is quite extensive. One thing you cannot call the man, though, is a hypocrite. Following the loss, Johnson was unwavering in his opinion on knees to a downed fighter, letting reporters know that nothing has changed for him on the subject.
“I like these rules, Johnson said. “Like I said, it’s a progression of a fight. So I went down on my back, I was coming up for an underhook, Adriana had me posted, he blasted a knee, the fight’s over. It was done. I don’t get any more concussions. It’s just done. And it was a different position I’ve been in. Like I said, Adriano did a good job of using his length, he fully extended me, and landed the knee…”
“I believe in these rules, I believe they’ve been put into place for a reason. And it’s just a different aspect of the game that you have to be able to evolve around. I know this isn’t a street fight and we’re not fighting on the street, but if you knock somebody down, you can blast them in the face. And that’s, essentially, the way it happened tonight is I was on my back, I was trying to get up, had my arm in there, and he delivered a phenomenal knee, and he took me out.”
Johnson further drove his point home by stating if the roles were reversed, he would have blasted Moraes with a knee as well. With this being the case, he was a bit perplexed with why anyone would think he’d change his mind on the topic just because it was him on the receiving end.
However, if the rules were reversed, the outcome would have remained open-ended after Moraes’ uppercut and perhaps Johnson would have overcome adversity as he has done in the past. In the end, due to the ONE Championship rules, he was unable to do so. And Mighty Mouse is just fine with that.
Who do you agree with? Aljamain Sterling or Demetrious Johnson?