Sometimes, all an MMA fighter needs to find his niche in the sport is the right perspective. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is a fighter who is proving that adage to be true. The UFC initially cut him after a series of failed weight cuts and losses in the 170 lb. division. Johnson took UFC President Dana White’s advice to go up in weight and get some wins in smaller promotions. He is now back in the UFC, bigger and better than ever. On Saturday, July 26, Johnson earned his biggest win yet, knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at 205 lbs. in just 44 seconds.
Johnson showed great promise in his first run with the UFC, including some highlight-reel knockout victories. However, he had an awful time with weigh-ins, including missing weight by as much as 6 pounds for a 170 lb. fight and a whopping 11 pounds for a 185 lb. fight. His wins lost luster and his losses looked that much worse with each failed weight cut. The UFC had no choice but to release him.
To his credit, Johnson has shown a great deal of maturity since he returned to the UFC and he has performed exceptionally at the 205 lb. weight. His first fight back was against Phil Davis, a phenomenal college wrestler who many thought was next in line for a title shot. Johnson completely dominated the fight en route to a unanimous decision.
Johnson took his performance to a whole new level against Nogueira. He backed the Brazilian up against the cage right away and landed a series of bombs with both hands. Nogueira slumped under the weight of Johnson’s punches but summoned the will to rise again, only to be finished by a devastating uppercut. That shot left Nogueira on his knees with blood pouring from his brow as the referee stepped in to stop it.
The week leading up to this fight saw the next 205 lb. challenger, Alex Gustaffson, have to pull out of a title fight due to injury. Daniel Cormier was quick to step in and take the shot. Johnson has clearly place himself in line for a title shot right after those guys. Having found his optimum weight class, Johnson is a fighter who belongs in the discussion with the best in his division.