The 24 year old Anthony Johnson entered the octagon for the first time since his comeback victory following the "eye poking" incident. With his rising star back on track he was given a fight with a low level welterweight gate keeper Luigi Fioravanti.
Firoavanit has been used to measure the talents of several premier names, including Chris Leben, Jon Fitch, and Diego Sanchez. And now Anthony Johnson.
Johnson dispatched Fioravanti in impressive fashion, controlling the fight well and scoring a first round TKO. Afterwards Johnson, ever the perfectionist, stated how unhappy he was with his performance despite the KO.
Johnson also commented on his work with Cung Le, a kickboxing master, and the progress he has made with his standup to complement his wrestling base. His progress has been truely amazing, any fans who have just notice Johnson in his last three fights would easily fall under the impression that he is a natural striker.
Le has proved the perfect coach for Johnson. Le combined San Shou, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and European Kickboxing into a unique striking system that allowed him to become a K-1 legend. His strong base in wrestling allowed him to move into the MMA field and post an undefeated record. But age likely limits Cung's MMA future, he is pursuing a future in movies and coaching.
Johnson appears to be a carbon copy of Le in terms of physical gifts and determination, and he is quickly looking like a Cung Le creation unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Johnson has shown a few of the straight kicks that Le prefers and shows off the powerful body and head kicks Le has put many foes away with.
Johnson is on the verge of being a contender but Dana White and Jorge Silva seem to see the potential and are taking baby steps with the Gerogia native. I do not expect Johnson to get Josh Koschech, Jon Fitch, or Carlos Condit.
The fighter I most expect to see Johnson facing next is Karo Parisya, fresh off a split decision over Dong Hyun Kim and attempting to throw his name back into Welterweight contendership himself. Karo with his Judo background also gives Johnson a "grappler lite" fight, to help him get over his struggles with BJJ fighters.
Both have fought in the last two weeks so they will be an ideal matchup in terms of timing as well. I fully expect Johnson to given this fight or a fight with a fighter in a similar position and skill level.
With another victory Johnson will become a contender for the Welterweight title and will have to fight his way through the constant mini- tournaments of contenders, in which we will learn if Johnson has risen too far, too fast or if he has the athletic ability to match GSP.