Demetrious Johnson has confirmed that Matt Hume won’t be in his corner when he competes in ONE Championship.
Johnson has been paired with Hume – head coach and founder of AMC Pankration – for the length of his professional mixed martial arts career. Together, they conquered the UFC’s flyweight division, where Johnson managed to defend his flyweight title for a record-setting 11 times. The former UFC champion is regarded as one of the greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world today.
But when “Mighty Mouse” enters the ONE Championship cage for the first time in March, he’ll be without the man who has always been by his side.
“He [Matt Hume] will no longer be in my corner when I compete, which is something I will have to get used to,” Johnson shared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week.
“Obviously, it’s a big change. When I go over there to compete, we can’t have any communication. He can’t help me work out anymore during fight week. It’s definitely a big change to me as an athlete and as a student, but it is what it is, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Demetrious Johnson’s move to ONE Championship was a whole lot less surprising when considering Hume’s familiarity with the Asian-based promotion.
Hume has been tied to ONE Championship ever since it was founded in 2011. Currently appointed as the Vice President of Operations, Hume is responsible for matchmaking and talent recruitment, amongst other duties.
Despite Hume’s executive role, Johnson notes that there is no conflict of interest.
“When it comes to me getting booked for my fights and my bout agreements, I believe Matt has nothing to do with it. There’s another person who is in charge of that. He sent me and Matt the bout agreement about who ONE Championship wants to offer me, and that’s how this bout agreement went with Wakamatsu.”
And for this reason, Johnson and Hume were initially gunning to maintain their already existing relationship.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been with Matt since the beginning of my mixed martial arts career. It’s not like I’ve just signed up to AMC and just started training with Matt, and then I got signed with ONE Championship. I’ve had amateur fights at AMC Pankration and six years as a champion at AMC Pankration with my head coach, Matt Hume, and now I’ve moved to ONE Championship.”
“We figured it would be okay, but when we sat down and worked through the logistics of it, they were like – you know – it’s probably best considering the conflict of interest that Matt is not in your corner.”
Into the gloom
Johnson and Hume’s relationship is undoubtedly one of the strongest in mixed martial arts. Hume would feed excellent tactical advice to Johnson in-between rounds and “Mighty Mouse” would often go out and implement those changes immediately.
“That’s what has been making me good for all of these years,” Johnson shared.
“Matt and I had this ying-yang. It’s like a video game. Matt was like do this, and I’d do it, but now I gotta go out there and do it.”
But now, Johnson will be cornered by fellow teammates at AMC Pankration and won’t have Hume’s expert coaching available for him at the end of each round.
“The last time that Matt wasn’t in my corner was when I fought amateur, and I broke my hand in the first round, and I ended up finishing the guy in the third round. Then I called Matt that night, and he said ‘how’s the fight?’ and I said ‘I broke my hand, I’m going to get surgery on Monday and then I have to go back to work.”
“Deep down inside, I’m a little nervous about it,” Johnson admitted.
“For me, mentally, I need to go out there and do what I need to do and remember all of the training that Matt put me through up until that point – that’s how I feel emotionally and mentally about it.”
“It’s going to work out. I’m confident in my skillset, I’m confident in my training, and I’m confident that Matt will make sure I’m fully prepared to go out there and be the best that I can be.”
Johnson will face Yuya Wakamatsu in his first bout at ONE: A New Era on March 31 in Japan.
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.