With over four years of experience competing inside the Octagon, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is a UFC veteran. Going 7-3 over those four years with six wins coming by way of stoppage (and one loss a joke of a decision against him) Johnson has proved to be a capable and exciting competitor in the UFC welterweight division.
Many fans are allured by his killer instinct and have rallied behind him. One need look no further than his two "Knockout of the Night" and one "Fight of the Night" performances to see why.
Yet for a man as large as Johnson it is nothing short of a miracle that he can cut his frame down to make 170 pounds. This is a task he has fought to conquer since entering the UFC over four years ago.
The time has come for a change in the fighting career of Anthony Johnson.
His next bout will feature him at a more ideal weight for his body. The middleweight division is a shark tank with blood in the water and Johnson is looking to make it his new home. At 185 pounds, his coach Mike Van Arsdale of the Blackzilians feels “Rumble” has found his true stride.
Van Arsdale recently hooked up with Hurtsbad MMA to share his take on Johnson’s opponent and his move to middleweight. Johnson’s opponent is something of a legend in the sport and is known as a lethal striker who is aggressive and dangerous inside the Octagon. Anyone who has competed with Vitor Belfort, or has seen him fight would agree.
Van Arsdale talked with Hurtsbad’s Todd Jackson about the upcoming bout which is scheduled to take place at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Belfort’s homeland. “That’s a great match up. Vitor is a definitely a good fighter with tons of experience. He is fighting in his home country of Brazil which should be pretty interesting.”
Regardless of home field advantage and Belfort’s talents, he sees a clear goal for Johnson. “On the other hand Anthony is really coming into his own now. I’m looking for a good fight and I think we are going to win.”
Having only lost once over three years at welterweight, some fight fans are curious as to why Johnson is making this move to middleweight: What is the reasoning? Van Arsdale explained the motive behind putting that process in motion.
He frankly told Hurtsbad, “Joe Silva requested that Anthony move up a weight class because he understands what will eventually happen if you lose too much weight for too long. Anthony is a 220 pounder, so he really has no business fighting at 170 pounds.”
Van Arsdale went on to explain, “From my experience as an athlete and as a coach, losing that type of weight does one thing to you and that is it rids you of some of your athleticism. As well as Anthony did at 170 pounds he only has his sails half way up.”
He added, “He just didn't have as much as he has in the tank the tank now. The difference is unbelievable between the Anthony Johnson of today and the Anthony Johnson of a few months ago when he was still at 170 pounds.”
“You will see it.” he proclaimed.
It sounds as if we will see it on many levels but none more apparent than his athleticism moving forward. “He doesn't get tired anymore. He doesn't drop his level as the fight goes on. He only fights harder, faster, he's accurate all the way, and he's very hard to hit.”
Van Arsdale also issued a warning for middleweight opponents. “Forget about taking him down, that's not going to happen by anybody at that weight class. He's just too strong and fast, and now he's starting to realize who he really is.”
No one knows a mixed martial artist in action better than their coach. To hear Mike Van Arsdale speak about his thoughts on Anthony Johnson it becomes apparent that vast changes have taken place. A metamorphosis if you will.
The last time the MMA community saw Johnson compete he was a dangerous and ruthless welterweight with very few blemishes on his record. The next time they see him, to hear the Blackzilian coach tell it, they will see an even more devastating and capable athlete at middleweight.
A better conditioned, heavier hitting, more athletic Anthony Johnson is quite an intimidating warrior to behold. It would appear the best Johnson we have ever seen has yet to show himself, but the time for the curtain to come down is upon us.
It will take an elite Anthony Johnson to compete with the deadly Brazilian on his home turf in Vitor Belfort. Mike Van Arsdale believes heavily that an elite Anthony Johnson is exactly who will be unveiled at UFC 142.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA. Follow us on Twitter @HurtsBad.