Demetrious Johnson received the first knockout loss of his career in his ONE Championship flyweight title fight against Adriano Moraes on Wednesday night.
In another major shock to the promotion, former UFC Champion Eddie Alvarez was controversially disqualified in his fight against Iuri Lapicus for allegedly aiming shots in the back of the head.
Pound for pound, the great Johnson is one of the best fighters in gaming history as he left the UFC in 2018 after 11 title defenses over a scintillating six-year span.
Still, he was brutally stopped for the first time in his career as Moraes described his championship credentials with a wild right uppercut to stun ‘Mighty Mouse’ before a knee to the face.
Although illegal in the United States, ONE Championship allows opponents to knees on the ground and Moraes capitalizes on his stricken opponent.
Johnson had called for the use of knees in the UFC for years before leaving the promotion, and last month he tweeted his feelings about how he felt the rules should be changed.
With ONE Championship making its debut on U.S. network TNT for the first time, the newly enthralled audiences would have endured even more dismay when they saw the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion disqualified after just 58 seconds.
After securing a takedown against Lapicus, “ The Underground King ” started unleashing a torrent of punches at his downed opponent – but the referee judged them from the back of the head.
Alvarez hadn’t fought since August 2019 and was visibly distraught by the end of the contest, his emotional appeal capturing fans’ hearts afterward.
“Iuri was turning his head the other way and the referee 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 pushing his head towards my punch.
“As long as it’s the ear it’s legal, but you put me in a cage, the ref is there… whatever call he makes, I apologize.”
“I hope Iuri is doing absolutely well because this game is so dangerous,” Alvarez added, choking back tears.
“And all that matters to me is that everyone here is sincerely safe and can return to their families when done.
“I pray for Iuri but you put me in a cage, I don’t know what to do here. I’m trying to survive. You have to respect the referee’s call, but I’m doing my best here. Prayers go to Iuri at this time.
“I’m sorry, honestly, I only think of a jeep when I think of Iuri on a stretcher because I’ve been on that side before and it bothers me a bit. I just found out that Iuri is fine.
“The American fans, that’s what we promise, they put two guys in a steel cage, what do you want? The referee is there to do it and he has done his best, so the call is the call.