Johnson, Alvarez win at ONE Championship event in Manila

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — American Demetrious Johnson defeated Tatsumitsu Wada of Japan via unanimous decision at ONE Championship’s “Dawn of Heroes” event and booked his place in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix final on Friday.

The 32-year-old Johnson, known as “Mighty Mouse,” was pushed to the limit by his Japanese rival, who had an obvious height and reach advantage.

Johnson’s superb techniques virtually nullified Wada’s submission attempts on the ground in the first round.

The American changed his tactics in the second round and started circling his rival as he searched for an opening. However, Wada stood firm and continued to out-power Johnson.

It was only with 90 seconds remaining in the round that Johnson changed the match. He connected with a double-leg takedown and closed out the round by hitting his opponent with a couple of elbows from the top position.

Johnson, the 12-time flyweight world champion, barely gave his rival a chance in the third and final round. The American caught Wada off guard with another takedown. Although Wada secured the back of his opponent at the very end, it was not enough to stop Johnson from claiming the victory.

Johnson will make his return against Danny Kingad of the Philippines, who won earlier against Reece McLaren of Australia.

Another American, Eddie Alvarez, broke the hearts of Filipino fans by submitting Eduard Folayang in the lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal.

Alvarez didn’t lose his composure even though Folayang came out sharp early in the first round.

Alvarez came to the Filipino’s back and then secured the rear-naked choke and a tap. The finish came in the third minute of the first round.

“I imagined this. We’ve seen this in my head. We persevered, pulled through adversity, and now we’re here,” Alvarez said.