New middleweight submitted in first round
The welterweight-turned-middleweight, who couldn’t hit the 186-pound limit for his first fight in the division on Friday, forcing the bout to a catch weight and giving up 20 percent of his fight purse, has been cut from the UFC. UFC president Dana White alluded to the likely decision on Fuel TV‘s UFC 142 post-fight show from Rio de Janeiro, site of Saturday’s pay-per-view, and he confirmed it to MMA Junkie at the post-fight press conference.
“To be honest, we’re probably going to cut him after this event,” White told Fuel TV’s Jon Anik on the broadcast. “Three strikes and you’re out. This is his third time that he hasn’t made weight. He’s the co-main event in a huge fight down here in Brazil. And this one was a bad one.”
At the post-fight press conference, White told MMA Junkie’s John Morgan that he was leaning in the direction of cutting Johnson (10-4, 7-4 UFC) on Friday when the fighter came in overweight.
“I knew what the decision was when I talked to you on Friday,” White told Morgan. “This is his third time. Listen, the guy was having problems making 170 pounds. He wanted to stay at 170 or whatever his deal was. You go to 185, and you blow it as bad as he blew it? That’s bad, man.”
Johnson’s UFC career had been spent at welterweight, where he twice failed to be on weight for the 171-pound non-title maximum. Against Rich Clementi at UFC 76, just his second UFC fight, Johnson came in over and fought at a 177.5-pound catch weight. He lost by submission in the first round. Just over two years later, at UFC 104, Johnson again couldn’t hit the mark – but beat Yoshiyuki Yoshida by first-round knockout in a 176-pound catch weight fight.
Johnson is on record saying he cuts as much as 55 pounds to make the welterweight limit, which he successfully did in six of his eight UFC fights at the weight class. That means he walks around as heavy as 225 pounds. So his decision to move to middleweight, where he would have 15 fewer pounds to lose, was looked at as a natural decision – and perhaps one that was long overdue. But Friday, Johnson reportedly got within 1.5 pounds of making 186, felt weak and ill and was asked to rehydrate by the UFC’s on-site doctor in Brazil rather than cutting the rest of the weight.
White told Morgan he would not rule out bringing Johnson back to the promotion later, he was also left wondering where things went wrong for the fighter.
“I don’t dislike the guy,” White said. “I like him very much actually. When you talk to Anthony Johnson, he’s a good guy. I don’t know who you blame in this one. Do you blame him? Do you blame his team? Do you blame his camp? I mean who takes the blame in this one? Ultimately, you’re a grown man. You’re responsible for your own actions.”
On the pay-per-view broadcast Saturday night, it was revealed that Johnson was entering the Octagon at 211 pounds. Belfort took the cage at 206. Johnson, per an amended bout agreement with Belfort, was required to weigh 205 pounds or less during a second weigh-in at noon Brazilian time the day of the fight. And though he controlled the fight in the first half of the first round, a tide turned about midway through and Belfort ultimately was able to keep Johnson on his hands and knees, took his back, flattened him out and sank in a fight-ending rear naked choke.
“Rumble Johnson did the damage to himself,” White told Fuel TV. “To be that unprofessional, and not come in on weight and be that far off when you used to fight at 170 – now you went to 185 pounds so you wouldn’t have trouble making weight, and this is your worst weight cut ever? That’s at a detriment to himself.”
After the fight, Johnson said he got tired in the fight, allowing Belfort to turn the tables.
“A loss is a loss,” Johnson told the UFC in a release. “My legs just got really tired. I didn’t get beat up in there, and he really didn’t hurt me with what he hit me with. I just got tired. I’ve got to figure this thing out.”
It just appears as if he’ll be figuring it out somewhere other than the UFC.