At the beginning of 2012, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had suffered a first-round submission lost to Vitor Belfort and at UFC 142 and was cut from the UFC after failing to make weight for the match up.
Flash forward nine months and Johnson, currently 13-4 in MMA, is riding a three-fight winning streak, his most recent victory was over Jake Rosholt via second round TKO at Xtreme Fight Night 9.
What could explain this improvement in Johnson? Perhaps it the fact that for two out of his last three fights he has been fighting at light heavyweight, while previous matches in his career was at middleweight and welterweight.
Prior to the fight with Rosholt, Johnson had fought Esteves Jones where he had scored another TKO in the second round.
In the fight before Jones, Johnson fought Dave Branch. Although the fight was contested at middleweight, Johnson had failed to make weight, which resulted in the fight being made catch weight at 195 pounds.
Although Johnson earned a decision victory over Branch, it still did not solve the problem of him making weight before fights, something he had done three times in his UFC career, to which the promotion responded by cutting Johnson after the Belfort fight, despite having a 7-4 record in the UFC.
The move to light heavyweight is a good chance for Johnson. Not only is he making weight for his fights, but also he doesn’t have to go through hell in order to make the right weight for his fights.
Sure he has some notable wins during his days as a welterweight like Dan Hardy and Charlie Brenneman, but the move to 205 pounds gives Johnson some new ground to conquer.
Although the trend is for fighters to move down in weight, there have been some fighters who have made the move back up to 205.
Belfort is challenging Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight title while. UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen are also returning to light heavyweight. Silva, at least temporarily is moving up to face Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
Sonnen, who at one point on deck to face Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 151 until the champion refused the match, is set to face former light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 in December.
If Johnson were to get the call to return to the UFC, perhaps he could be a force in the promotion’s already stacked light heavyweight division.