How Demetrious Johnson Used "Zombie" Coaching To Rekindle His MMA Profession

Demetrious Johnson (31-4-1) is back on top after avenging his loss to Adriano Moraes in April to win the ONE Flyweight Championship in August. At 36, "Mighty Mouse," the first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion and one of the circuit's most exciting fighters, had everything to prove when a thundering knee to the face spelled the end of his original challenge against Moraes. However, the rematch would take the form of poetic justice, with Demetrious Johnson delivering his own big knee to reignite his career and add another chapter to his stellar career.

M&F sat down with the lightning fast fighter to find out more about his athletic background, attitude towards nutrition and the 'zombie' training that had reignited his championship hopes.

ONE championship

You're so quick in the cage. You ran athletics as a child and did a lot of sports. Do you think that helped your explosive power?

When I was in high school I did all kinds of sports. I played soccer, cross country, track and field and even basketball when I was in middle school. The greatest was wrestling. I've done long distances with the track; I ran 1,600 m and 3,200 m, so I think that means that my cardio is so good. My fastest mile was 4 minutes and 32 seconds at a time when I was still in high school, so I can pick up the pace so I can still be explosive even if I'm 3 or 4 rounds into the fight.

Fighters take many different approaches to nutrition. What are your preferences?

I follow my wife. It's called eating the rainbow (laughs). This means that at every meal I try to eat fruit, protein, vegetables and also carbohydrates. So I don't usually eat veggies in the morning because I'm not a fan of salad in the morning, but I eat gluten-free oatmeal with some almonds and then eggs with a little bit of cheese, and then I have chicken sausage so I get that wide variety. I also take yogurt. For the next meal, I'll try to do the same thing, except for the yogurt. The next carb is usually brown rice or quinoa or sweet potato and then you have your sautéed spinach. Spinach is the only green variety I really like to eat. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and all that stuff makes me bloated. My form of protein will be chicken, steak, venison. I have tried to stay in this cycle my entire adult career and it has helped me not to lose any weight at all.

That sounds like a much more sustainable plan than a crash diet!

Yes, a thousand percent, I think a lot of people follow these fads when it comes to just the lifestyle. At the beginning of the year the gym memberships are up and after 2 months they are down again so I think the way I eat is a lifestyle for me. Obviously I'm a big spender, I had lasagna last night. So when I look at a lasagna, I don't see it as a fattening food, I see it as my carb, I have my protein with the beef, I have veggies and whatnot, and I'm a very active person so it works just fine for me. Sometimes I do intermittent fasting for 12 hours, which I believe is a natural way of fasting.

Where do you like to train?

I see my head coach Matt Hume for all my disciplines, but since we've been with Matt for so many years now we're just trying to execute what we need to do to get the job done in combat. If I join the GRPL Club, with Professor Yan (McCane), that's all for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Grappling. I have 2 hours of guided instructional grappling. That's how it was when I started my apprenticeship at AMC [Kickboxing and Pankration]. Also, you have your regular gym and when I'm in Arizona I go to Arizona Combat Sports.

You held part of your battle camp in Arizona before taking on Adriano Moraes. How was it?

I spent two weeks out there in Arizona just to get away and break the monotony of staying home and doing a training camp. You know, I'm 36 now. I feel quite responsible. If I prepare for these fights and don't do the work that I have to do, I'm only cheating myself because at the end of the day, I have to get in the cage and fight, not my trainers.

A big aspect of your training this time was to keep moving forward while shooting. They called it "zombie training". In the first fight against Moraes you were stopped with a brutal knee. Was this training method a way to prepare you for it? both physically and mentally?

Yes, a thousand percent. We sat down and watched it, and we decided that the best way we could still defeat Adriano was just to go forward and fight. And I feel like in all my fights I just come forward and try to put pressure on someone, try to squeeze them, wrestle a bit and we tried to implement that in this fight against Adriano. It's the same as what we did in the first fight, we just fixed a few things. So I just called it "zombie" for me. You know, the "Korean zombie" Chan Sung Jung, he did very well, he just went ahead and took so many shots, and I was ready to take a lot of shots this time.

Thanks to the new deal with Amazon Prime Video, there seems to be a lot of momentum behind ONE Championship. What are your thoughts on this?

With ONE Championship appearing on Amazon Prime Video, it's just another way for fans in the United States to experience the fine arts of Asia, so fingers crossed that they make it to Europe and double fingers crossed that they do America come. and we will continue to have great fights.

In terms of great fights, when could we see you in action again?

2023. Hopefully the first quarter. That's my goal, obviously I'm still healing. I think I'm almost 100% healed and I'm going to start exercising next Monday getting my body back on track and starting lifting and getting the cardio where it needs to be and we'll see what happens. We'll see what One Championship brings us.

ONE returns to Prime Video with a massive Main Event pitting Angela Lee against Xiong Jing Nan for the Women's Strawweight Title, televising live in the US and Canada on Friday, September 30 at 8:00pm ET becomes. For further information, click here!

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