20 Jan 2014 18:05:26 PM
(In case you missed it, here’s what Rumble did to Mike Kyle on Saturday. Props: Arquivo El)
By Scott Sawitz
What a weird, wild ride it’s been for Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the past 18 months. He’s gone from being a welterweight prospect with an insanely high ceiling (and an even bigger weight cut), to a high-profile UFC castoff, to a star for the fledgling World Series of Fighting promotion at light-heavyweight. After his spectacular knockout of journeyman Mike Kyle on Saturday night — which fulfilled the last fight on his WSOF contract — there was plenty of speculation among the MMA community on where he’d end up next.
Somehow, Rumble Johnson has become the hottest free agent since Hector Lombard. The WSOF, the UFC, or Bellator (or maybe all three) is going to offer him a big money deal because of one thing: Anthony Johnson is the only unsigned light-heavyweight in the world right now who looks like he could be a relevant fighter in the top tier of the 205-pound division. But the reality is, that’s only because he hasn’t had to face anyone that would suggest otherwise; the current buzz around Johnson wasn’t exactly built on quality of competition.
Bloody Elbow’s Mookie Alexander wrote a terrific piece on why the UFC needs Johnson, if only to bolster its dwindling, aging LHW roster, but I’d argue that Johnson isn’t the sort of high-profile fighter we think he is right now. You could never call him “elite” because he hasn’t fought anyone of note (with the possible exception of Andrei Arlovski, who he fought at heavyweight). In his best moments, Johnson looks like he could actually pass for a UFC title contender, but that could also be the result of some kind matchmaking by World Series of Fighting and Johnson’s management team.Read More DIGG THIS