Every MMA fan loves a good knockout, and in this fight I would not recommend taking a break from the action. This one may not last long. Both of these men possess the striking skills and precision to put any man in their weight class to sleep. Vitor Belfort has been knocking people out in the UFC since 1997. Anthony Johnson is part of the new breed of MMA strikers who is taking a foothold in the UFC and beyond.
Each of these men is dangerous and different in their approach to their combat. Below I will discuss each man's strengths and weaknesses and then I will break down the fight.
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson
Anthony Johnson is a debuting middleweight who often had extreme difficulty making the welterweight limit. He often drained much of his stamina and strength due to the fact that he had to lose so many pounds. Johnson himself now admits to the weight loss bothering and hindering him. What is scary about that is Johnson was already a top fighter at welterweight. Now that he is not forced to make that huge weight cut he will retain his power far better.
Johnson could end the fight with strikes, but it is also interesting to note that he has been effective with his wrestling when he needed it. He used it to easily dominate Dan Hardy in a fight where, although it lacked the frenzied attack of a normal "Rumble" Johnson fight, his wrestling helped him control his opponent. This could be a significant factor in the latter part of the fight if Anthony thinks he is behind on the cards.
Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort
Vitor Belfort has had a rollercoaster ride in the UFC middleweight division. He easily dispatched Rich Franklin and then was forced to sit on the sidelines due to injury. Then for some reason unknown to me Belfort was still given a shot at Anderson Silva and his UFC middleweight title after only one win in the UFC (which was at a catchweight of 195).
The Spider then frontkicked Vitor back down the ladder. However, soon after Vitor dispatched Yoshihiro Akiyama in less than a round, which sets up this UFC 142 showdown with Anthony Johnson. If Vitor wins in Rio it will be his first winning streak in almost three years. He seems to still have the fire of a warrior burning in him, enough to attempt to win a championship.
Vitor will need to finish this fight early in my eyes. He tends to fade in the later rounds and so does his punching power. Vitor has never scored a knockout after the second round. Can he still be effective in the later rounds when Johnson will still be strong?
Both of these guys are going to be looking for the knockout. If Vitor can connect early he is a phenomenal finisher. When the "Phenom" smells blood in the water he moves in for the finish better than anyone in the business. The only problem is that Anthony Johnson is an even better fighter at middleweight than he was at 170 pounds. Johnson will survive the early onslaught.
I envision Johnson being able to survive the early flurries of Vitor and looking for counter opportunities early even a takedown if he gets clipped. If the fight goes into the second or third round Johnson will still have the advantage due to his pace. He will stay steady attacking throughout and Belfort will fade as he has historically done in the past. Anthony Johnson wins this fight and moves into the top 10 at middleweight in style. This fight will be a slugfest with fight of the night written all over it. Who's ready for a rumble in the jungle?