(Oh how we’ve missed you, old friend.)
Anthony Johnson‘s redemptive arch as a fighter is one on par with something typically reserved for a Hollywood movie. The hard-hitting Georgian was once the talk of the town at 170 lbs., lauded as easily the most dangerous potential challenger to Georges St. Pierre‘s throne and a mountain of a challenge for anyone in between. Problem was, Johnson suffered from what is now known as “Lineker’s Syndrome” — the inability to actually make weight for two consecutive bouts in the division he was supposedly competing in.
Johnson’s struggles on the scale seemed as if they would be a thing of the past when he announced that he would be moving up to middleweight, but lo, they only got worse. Johnson missed weight by a staggering 12 pounds for his middleweight debut against Vitor Belfort, was choked out in the first round at UFC 142, and promptly fired by the UFC.
Looking back now, it’s laughable and damn near inconceivable to picture “Rumble” as a welterweight. Once exiting the UFC, Johnson immediately moved up to light heavyweight, then heavyweight, scoring vicious knockouts of Jake Rosholt and DJ Linderman (see above) as well as a decision victory over Andrei Arlovski along the way. Most recently, Johnson dropped back to light heavyweight to violently KO Strikeforce veteran Mike Kyle at WSOF 8 (notice a pattern here?), his third successive win since signing with the WSOF back in 2012.
His weight issues finally behind him, Johnson’s hard work over the years will come to a head at UFC 172, when “Rumble” faces top light heavyweight prospect Phil Davis in a fight that will place the winner on the short list of title contenders.
Also on tap for UFC 172 is a middleweight sure-to-be-banger between Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch. Following an..ahem…unsucessful UFC debut against Vitor Belfort, the final Strikeforce middleweight champion rebounded in emphatic fashion against Costas Philippou at Fight Night 35 last month, forcing the former top contender to shart out his liver via a brutal kick to the body early in the first round. Boetsch also has had a rocky go of things as of late, recently rebounding from the first two-fight skid of his career with a controversial decision over C.B. Dollaway at UFC 166.
UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira (Finally) transpires at the Baltimore Arena in Maryland on April 26. Who do you like for these pair of slugfests, Nation?