Here come the two fastest fighters in the world

By Frank Curreri

Demetrious Johnson is beginning to stand out in the UFC bantamweight division and it’s not just because of the uncommon spelling of his first name or his cartoon character alias. The Matt Hume protégé dealt New York’s Nick Pace the first loss of his career, and followed that up by stunning red-hot Damacio Page. At UFC 126 the speedy 24-year-old will try to play spoiler once again when he collides with Japanese sensation Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (18-3, 1 NC), arguably Asia’s most popular mixed martial artist.

It’s hard to imagine this matchup being anything other than fast-paced and action-packed. MMA fans have waited years for the ultra-explosive Yamamoto to showcase his sizzling skill set in the U.S., particularly inside of the Octagon, home of the world’s premier 135- and 145-pound fighters. While February 5 will be a monumental day for Yamamoto, it will also harbor the greatest opportunity of Johnson’s three-year career.

“He’s one of the biggest stars in Japan. He’s like the Manny Pacquiao of Japan,” Johnson, a.k.a. “Mighty Mouse,” said of his fiery opponent, a knockout artist who has triumphed over the likes of Genki Sudo, Royler Gracie, Rani Yahya, Caol Uno, Jeff Curran and Bibiano Fernandes, among others. “He’s a good striker, very athletic. Everybody sees him as a legend of the sport – which he is – and I want to test myself against him.”

 

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