As the old saying goes, “Everyone loves a comeback.” Well, one comeback to love in the MMA world right now is that of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Johnson was victorious at UFC on Fox 12 last Saturday night (July 26), knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the first round of their main card bout. Now firmly in the Top 5 of UFC‘s light heavyweight rankings, Johnson has cemented a career rebirth of sorts in UFC’s light heavyweight division.
Johnson’s earlier UFC run at welterweight was marred by recurring disappointments and his repeated failures at making weight. Rumble missed weight twice at welterweight. Johnson would often endure criticism for coming in over the weight limit, and he would often berate fans as a result of his own mistakes. For the UFC, the final straw occurred when Johnson was set to move up a weight class to middleweight and fight Vitor Belfort at UFC 142 in January 2012. Johnson was unable to make weight or finish his weight cut safely. Johnson entered the fight heavy and was submitted by Belfort in the first round. After the fight, Johnson was dropped from the UFC roster. Johnson attempted to stay at middleweight outside the UFC. In his fight against Dave Branch at Titan Fighting Championships 22 in May 2012, Johnson failed yet again to make weight. As a result, he opted to move up another weight class to light heavyweight.
Now at a fight weight much closer to his natural size, Johnson no longer had to try and destroy his body in order to cut 50-60 pounds before a fight. After making an official move up to light heavyweight, Johnson went on an impressive winning streak and was finally signed back into the UFC. He came back in impressive fashion, dominating and beating up then Top 5-ranked light heavyweight Phil Davis at UFC 172 last April.
As of now, Johnson definitely appears to be hitting his stride and showing all that potential he had as a young prospect in the early days of his UFC career. The problem was that he was fighting way below his natural weight and he was cutting too much. How Johnson was ever able to actually fight at welterweight is a mystery to me. With another exciting win, Johnson has cemented himself as a light heavyweight contender. He looks like the threat he never panned out to be as a welterweight.