UFC welterweight Anthony Johnson is a gigantic man.
His typical walk-around weight is somewhere between 215 and 220 pounds, the same weight that many UFC light heavyweight fighters maintain when not in training camp. That’s the same weight Randy Couture is currently maintaining. The difference, of course, is that Johnson fights at welterweight, meaning he undergoes a 45lb weight cut for fight weigh-ins. Johnson has struggled making weight as of late. In September, he came in six pounds over the 171 pound limit for his bout with Yoshiyuki Yoshida after attempting a new form of weight cutting that involved drinking water and eating very little food in the week leading up to his fight. That method obviously did not work out, as Johnson was completely spent in the days leading up to the fight. He had to be carried to weigh-ins the day before UFC 104, and could barely summon the energy to even climb the stairs leading to the scales.
Johnson was told after weigh-ins that he would have one more chance at welterweight, and if he couldn’t make the cut he would be forced to move to middleweight. He told Heavy.com on the day of UFC 104 that he would never use the new weight-cutting method again.
Johnson made weight for his UFC 106 bout with Josh Koscheck. In a conversation we had with him the day before weigh-ins, Johnson noted that he was 176 pounds and would have zero troubles making weight the next day. He looked lean and healthy, a stark contrast to our conversation from UFC 104 when he looked like an exhausted heavyweight.
But apparently Johnson had more trouble than he was letting on. According to trainer Cung Le on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour podcast, Johnson passed out prior to the UFC 106 weigh-ins. He looked healthy and energetic when he stepped on the scale, but the task of cutting so much water from what should be, at maximum, the body of a middleweight still took a massive toll on Johnson.
Did it hurt him in the fight against Josh Koscheck on Saturday night? It’s hard to tell. Johnson walked in the cage at around 205 pounds that night and dwarfed the much-smaller Koscheck in terms of size. He didn’t appear to be lacking in the energy department, but anything that results in a fighter blacking out the day before a bout can’t be considered anything but a bad thing when he steps in the cage.
Johnson told me in September that he’ll eventually move to middleweight, but feels that welterweight is the right division for him at this point. After two straight incidents resulting from trying to make weight, it’s apparent that the time for Johnson to move up a division is now. The UFC will pressure him to make the move, but this time it probably won’t be a request.