Anthony Johnson vs. Andrei Arlovski: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Anthony Johnson raised some eyebrows when he expressed interest in possibly moving up to the land of the heavyweights. Even more surprising was Johnson expressing interest in facing former UFC heavyweight champ, Andrei Arlovski (h/t Damon Martin, MMA Weekly).
Both men competed on the World Series of Fighting 1 event with both picking up victories. Johnson has competed as low as welterweight previously in his career but seems to have found a home at light heavyweight.
However, that doesn't mean Johnson isn't open to opportunities outside the 205-pound division.
A fight with Arlovski and Johnson would no doubt provide fireworks and would be a great fight for the WSOF to follow up the momentum gained by their first event.
Arlovski has always competed at heavyweight, but would he have the advantage over "Rumble" if the two were to meet one another?
The striking game is where both Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Johnson make their money. The two are some of the most explosive strikers to compete in MMA in recent memory.
But the striking complements of both men differ from one another.
Arlovski is noted as having some of the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. His boxing is extremely crisp and as one would expect, possesses knockout power in either hand.
Johnson isn't known for having amazing technique but rather insane athleticism and knockout power. Johnson is a great athlete and uses his physical tools to turn the lights off quickly and often times, violently.
If the two engaged on the feet, Arlovski would have a two-inch height advantage but Johnson actually has a longer reach (by an inch). Johnson also is a more diverse striker, blending punches and kicks with devastating fashion.
Arlovski's boxing is good enough to give Johnson fits and keep "Rumble" from getting in rhythm; however, that's not the main concern with these two standing. The main question mark revolves around Arlovski's chin and whether or not he can survive taking some of the devastating shots Johnson will throw his way.
It will be a battle of technique versus raw power if Arlovski and Johnson meet one another. Picking who has the advantage on the feet goes to whatever one you value more.
Although Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Johnson are both known for their striking prowess, both possess solid ground games as well.
Arlovski comes from a Sambo background in which "The Pitbull" was a European Youth Sambo champion, a finalist in the World Cup of Sambo and also in the Sambo World Championships. Another part of Arlovski's game that often gets overlooked is his wrestling game.
Arlovski has been working for years on his wrestling and is noted as having very good takedown defense.
"The Pitbull" may need that takedown defense if he faces Johnson. The "Blackzillians" team member is a national JUCO wrestling champion at 174 pounds and has some explosive takedowns. Johnson is extremely strong and his speed that is so evident in his striking translates to the speed of his double leg.
The "X-factor" in any grappling exchanges between these two men will be Johnson's submission defense. Three of Johnson's four losses have come via submission, and it could be an area that Arlovski's head coach, Greg Jackson, could look to exploit.
I don't expect this potential fight to take place on the mat at all unless one guy starts getting tagged. Both Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Johnson love to use their striking skills, and I see no reason why either will come in with the strategy to look for takedowns.
Arlovski is a great technical boxer and likes to use his jab a lot, just as any typical boxer does. It helps set up his powerful right hand but could come back to haunt him against Johnson. If Johnson can time Arlovski's jab or if "The Pitbull" gets lazy with the punch, look for Johnson to go over the top or parry the jab and land a powerful right hand of his own.
What could give Arlovski trouble on the feet are Johnson's kicks. "Rumble" loves to throw high kicks and would surely look to use some leg kicks to throw off the rhythm of Arlovski. Another advantage Johnson should enjoy against Arlovski is his speed.
While Arlovski is known for his hand speed, he hasn't faced a guy with the type of speed and agility possessed by Johnson. How "The Pitbull" reacts to the athleticism of Johnson will be telling as to how this fight plays out.
Despite both men looking to trade shots early, I'm sure Greg Jackson will look to exploit Johnson's submission defense. Arlovski has the submission skills to tap out Johnson and it will be interesting if Arlovski chooses to forgo his striking game in order to exploit his opponent's weakness.