Rising Star, Anthony Johnson Shouldn't Look Past Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Most fighters admit that they dream about their upcoming opponent through out their training regimen. Just imagine the nightmarish build of Anthony "Rumble" Johnson swirling around inside the mind of Yoshiyuki Yoshida.
Johnson will always be one of the bigger welterweights if he continues with the weight cuts. What makes him a problem is that, along with size and strength, he carries down speed and athleticism into the division; both are well needed attributes if he plans on dethroning Georges St. Pierre.
When asked if a win should launch him into the upper ranks of the division, Johnson confidently said, "Oh yeah, of course. After Yoshida, I'm pretty sure they'll put me against somebody that's top ten."
Just to be clear, "Rumble" is by no means looking past Yoshida. He is very aware of the skills that the former Shooto fighter possesses.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida earned a nine fight win-streak behind a black belt in Judo and a patient, yet vicious ground attack.
Johnson's size and strength is useful against wrestlers, however it may be a disadvantage against Yoshida. The sneaky Yoshida often slides his way into a clinch, where he uses his opponent's weight and momentum to take the fight to the mat.
Though Yoshida used ground-and-pound to earn most of his victories, he is very skilled in submissions as well.
His only two UFC wins have come by submission over Jon Koppenhaver and Brandon Wolff. This spells trouble for Johnson if he hasn't improved his inability to pass the guard.
"Rumble" has the wrestling ability to take anybody down, but Yoshida's Judo background should make him think twice, or even a third time.
Unless he is drastically working on his inactive ground game, Johnson's best bet is to slug it out with Yoshida. He should also put the fear of a take down in Yoshida's mind, similar to Josh Koscheck's game plan against Yoshida last December.
Yoshida likes to clinch and throw rather than sprawl, a fake take down attempt could leave Yoshida wide open for another looping punch; a trait that Johnson carries with him well.
A spectacular win could earn either fighter a chance to fight a top ten opponent. Since writers can look ahead without worry of a brutal knock out or submission, the names of Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann come to mind.
Of course, that is just speculation, especially if the winner does so in a lack-luster performance. For the time being, the only thing the winner will be satisfied with is a win at UFC 104.
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