We could all learn so many things from Anthony Johnson.
Few would have thought Johnson (19-4-0, 13 KOs) would ever be next in line for a title shot when the UFC cut him from their roster early 2012.
It was hard to blame Dana White and the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s brass for their decision. Johnson repeatedly had problems making the welterweight limit of 170 pounds, and he shocked even his biggest supporters when he came in well above the middleweight limit for his fight against Vitor Belfort in Brazil.
Johnson had his moments during the fight, but his cardio eventually failed him, and Vitor was able to put him way with a rear naked choke late in the first round.
Anthony Johnson didn’t bitch and moan about the UFC’s decision to cut him, he vowed to fight his way back by dominating opponents in smaller MMA promotions.
Johnson’s road back to the Octagon had some bumps early on.
He failed to make the middleweight limit once again for his fight against David Branch (who missed weight as well), giving his critics lots of ammunition to use.
The harsh criticism did more good than harm though. Johnson decided to move up to the light-heavyweight division after failing to make the middleweight limit for the second consecutive bout.
That’s probably the best decision he’s ever made.
The results were obvious. Johnson lost a little bit of speed with the move to the light-heavyweight division, but the already freakishly strong fighter also gained a lot power. Johnson had always been one of the more technical kick boxers in MMA, so he knew exactly what to do with his increased strength.
Johnson rumbled through his next five opponents, winning four bouts via brutal knockouts. That was enough to get the UFC’s attention, and a contract followed shortly.
Many expected Johnson to struggle during his first fight back against Phil Davis, but “Mr. Wonderful” was the one who looked like he was in over his head. Johnson handed a Davis, who was only a couple of fights away from a title shot, a vicious beating, while stuffing the decorated wrestler’s takedowns with ease.
It only took “Rumble” 44 seconds to take care of his next opponent Antônio Rogério Nogueira.
Johnson biggest win since his return came at UFC on Fox 14. He went into enemy territory to face Alexander Gustafsson for the #1 contender spot, walking into the cage as a +290 underdog.
Johnson showcased his world-class striking skills during his showdown with Gustafsson, hurting “The Mauler” early in their contest, bringing the fight to an end with a vicious salvo of blows at the 2:15 mark.
Now, Anthony Johnson will get the next shot at the UFC light-heavyweight title.
Without a doubt, Johnson will be the underdog heading into the Octagon once again, but it would be foolish to count him out. Johnson hits significantly harder than anyone Jon Jones has ever faced, and there’s a very good chance he’ll be able to stuff most of “Bone’s” takedowns.
Rumble should also be able to nullify one of Jones’ biggest weapons: his length, since he didn’t have any problems getting inside and landing hard shots against Gustafsson, who is almost as rangy as Jones.
Then, there’s the fact Johnson is the technically superior striker.
Jones has been a lot more willing to trade shots with opponents during his last couple of outings, seemingly trying to make a point by beating them at their own games. If he tries that against Rumble, there will be a new UFC light-heavyweight champion.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.