Though former UFC champion Vitor Belfort was discouraged that he wouldn't be prominently featured in the organization's initial foray back into Brazil, he can take solace in that he will now take on co-main event honors in their sophomore effort.
UFC 142 takes place on Jan. 14 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where a featherweight battle featuring champion Jose Aldo taking on top contender Chad Mendes will earn main event status.
Belfort takes on a formidable opponent in the heavy handed Anthony Johnson. Though "Rumble" has fought exclusively as a welterweight in all of his UFC appearance, he will now venture into the middleweight picture where when he takes on the dangerous Belfort.
Anthony Johnson has a lot of tools at his disposal, though the "Blackzillian" is best known for his crippling punches and kicks.
Standing at 6'2" and yielding a 78-inch reach, Johnson holds distinctive advantages over most men, though it's always been his obvious power which has been his equalizer. Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Tommy Speer, Kevin Burns, Luigi Fioravanti, Chad Reiner and Charlie Brenneman can all attest to the knockout power of Johnson.
However, fighting fire with fire may be the best course of action for Belfort, though he stands a good chance against Johnson.
A former professional boxer, Belfort has always had some of the best pure striking skills in all of mixed martial arts. Though he wields unbridled punching power that spans across several weight classes, it's been his uncanny and unmatched speed that has left most opponents lying on the ground awaking from unconsciousness.
Against Johnson, footwork, angles and speed will be key against the heavy hitter, though all of these assets are skills that Belfort has in his arsenal.
Though he's most well known for his powerful strikes, Johnson first began his mixed martial arts career thanks to his background as an amateur wrestler.
A former two-time state high school champion, Johnson later entered the collegiate circuit where he wrestled for TOURO College, earning the 2004 NJCAA title at 174 pounds.
In his battle with former title challenger Dan Hardy, Johnson was able to use his dominating top game in order to cruise through a one-sided decision victory over the heavy hitting Brit.
Next, Johnson used his grappling skills in reverse when he took on fellow touted collegiate wrestling stud Charlie Brenneman, staving off all takedown attempts from the AMA Fight Club fighter, who succumbed to a first round knockout from Johnson.
Belfort has continued to plug away in his grappling skills with the Xtreme Couture crew and holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the late and great Carlson Gracie.
However, his Achilles heel has always been his wrestling skills, which Johnson would be more than capable of exploiting.
In the end, Johnson's ability to mix the fight both on the feet and on the ground will make him an unpredictable threat in the cage.
Belfort could give Johnson some hairy moments, but "Rumble" will strike just long enough to lull the Brazilian into some exchanges where Johnson will expertly work him to the canvas.
Wash, rinse and repeat as Johnson does this over the course of three rounds, taking home a decision victory, laying claim as a top contender in the middleweight class.