Anthony Johnson has gone up a weight class (so now he's just a large middleweight instead of a titanic welterweight) but to him, that only makes life easier.
"This is easy," Johnson said at the UFC 142 media conference call at which Bleacher Report was present.
"I weigh 215 right now and I still feel great. The weight is gonna come off no problem. So that’s why I feel so good, because I don’t have to cut the weight that I used to cut."
"I’m more explosive, more athletic, everything has just come to where it needs to be. I’m peaking at the right time. Right now, middleweight is where I am, and that's all I'm thinking about," said Johnson.
Johnson formerly fought in the welterweight division (170 pounds for you novices) and his gargantuan size enabled him to dominate opponents.
But the man who will be welcoming him to the 185-pound weight class—Brazilian striking phenom Vitor Belfort—isn't a man who is easy to dominate.
However, such a test doesn't daunt Johnson.
"It’s not intimidating at all," he said. "It’s actually motivating for me. It makes me even more hungry because it shows me that the UFC believes in me by giving me this opportunity."
Johnson isn't scared of the man and he's not scared of the venue either—the HSBC arena in Rio de Janeiro—in which will be 15,000 Brazilian fans wanting to see Belfort leave him broken and unconscious in the Octagon.
He is more flattered than anything.
"Going into Rio is an honor. This is where pretty much it all begin, in Rio, in Brazil."
And about the hostile crowd, what does he care?
"I don’t mind coming into anybody’s backyard and putting on a good show and fighting to the best of my ability, because that’s what I’m gonna do January 14th no matter what,” said Johnson.
Johnson will have his hands full with Belfort, who is the toughest opponent he's faced to date.
The two will square off in the co-main event of UFC 142 on January 14th.
With a victory over Belfort, who knows what challenge UFC matchmaker Joe Silva will give Johnson next.
Regardless, all Johnson cares about is longevity.
"I want to fight as long as possible. If I could be fighting at the age Randy [Couture] was fighting at, that would be a blessing an honor."
Win or lose on the 14th, middleweight is a more dangerous place with Anthony Johnson in it. The MMA world will see many more intriguing fights now that he's a part of that weight class.
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