Weight cutting can be seen as an art, it can be seen as something that gives you a huge advantage over your opponent, and in many ways it’s an important aspect of Mixed Martial Arts as it is today. Once a welterweight, then fighting at middleweight, then at catchweight, then at light heavyweight, before taking a fight at heavyweight, Anthony Johnson has now finally found a home at light heavyweight. He proved his worth in the division with a dominant decision win over top ranked Phil Davis at UFC 172, and as a result showed that weight cutting isn’t always the key to success.
Johnson was a solid fighter at welterweight and had some impressive wins during his spell in the UFC over the likes of Charlie Brenneman and Dan Hardy, but never truly established himself as a contender.After failing to make weight on more than one occasion, ‘Rumble’ revealed his decision to move up to middleweight – closer to his natural weight, but still a big weight cut – and, once again, he failed to make weight for his debut in the 185lbs weight class against Vitor Belfort. He ultimately lost the fight, and was cut by the promotion as a result of multiple weight cutting problems despite going 7-4 inside the Octagon.
However Anthony Johnson looked rejuvenated since leaving the UFC, racking up an impressive run of six wins which included bouts at a 195lbs catchweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, and his power and ferocity in the heavier weight classes was clear for all to see. While knockouts over Mike Kyle and Jake Rosholt were impressive, Johnson was yet to face a ranked light heavyweight which resulted in a number of doubters on the legitimacy of Rumble’s run outside the UFC.
Johnson was re-signed by the top promotion in the world and scheduled to face his toughest test to date in the form of #4 ranked light heavyweight Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis, a stellar wrestler with a solid submission game who had lost just once in his career. This was a big test for Johnson in his return, and it was no surprise to see him pitted as the underdog. What happened next was quite incredible.
Johnson picked Davis apart on the feet, used staggeringly impressive takedown defence and head movement, and quite simply destroyed Mr. Wonderful to the point where it made him look like a low ranked light heavyweight. His gas tank was far improved compared to former UFC fights, and he placed himself in line for a run at the title in the near future.
With cutting lots of weight comes a number of issues; from the re-hydration process that can leave you feeling short of energy just minutes into a fight, to the long preparation towards losing the weight that can make it hard to prepare on your opponent himself. Now a very different fighter at light heavyweight, Johnson is a scary foe for any in the division, and his unanimous decision victory at UFC 172 is quite simply the most impressive of his career. No longer shedding a ton of weight and now able to go the full 15 minutes with greater ease, Rumble is back in the UFC with a bang.