Johnson prepared for war, says the fight will end in knockout
The past few years have not been kind to UFC welterweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
The dynamic striker ended his 2009 campaign – which featured two knockout wins – with a disappointing submission loss to Josh Koscheck, while spending 2010 recovering from surgery. The lengthy absence has caused the once fast-rising 170 lb. fan favorite to drift out of sight in the eyes of many, and when he has been brought up in discussion lately, it’s typically more focused on which weight class he will be fighting in due to past problems with making the welterweight limit.
But Johnson says the fans should not be speculating on whether or not he is moving up in weight, stating in this weeks media call for UFC Fight Night 24 that the welterweight division is his home. Rather, everyone’s eyes should be on him this weekend when he faces off against former top contender Dan Hardy in the co-main event of the evening and reminds everyone what he brings to the table.
“I thought I’d make a statement every time I fight to let everybody know who I am,” Johnson said on a media call this week. “That’s just who I am, period. And yet I have to go out there and show that I’m back, so it’s time to go out there, putting their hands up and doing what me and Dan does best. And that’s to throw punches and blow blows and knock people out. So one way or the other, somebody’s getting knocked out.”
While fans on Saturday night may have to rack their brains to remember the last time they watched Johnson compete, everyone should now what to expect out of this one, according to Johnson. Looking at each fighter’s resume, he certainly has a point. Of their combined 31 professional victories, 19 have come by way of knockout, including Hardy’s highlight reel finish of Rory Markham at UFC 95 and Johnson’s obliteration of Yoshiyuki Yoshida.
Yet even with their striking pedigrees and Johnson believing a knockout will be the way this fight ends, perhaps what makes this fight most intriguing for the fans is that each fighter lacks any desire to move the contest to the floor, both much more fond of an all-out slugfest.
“We know what we can do and the fans know,” Johnson said on a media call earlier this week. “We’re going to do this on Saturday and show the world what we’ve got.
“It ain’t going to the ground. You’re talking to two guys that love to bang, plain and simple. We don’t like that, you know, lovey dovey stuff. You know what I’m saying? We want to it keep it on the feet, give everybody what they want, what they paid their money for… And that’s what we do best and that’s what we love doing and that’s what the fans love to see.”
Still, as great of a match up as this may turn out to be, some question why a bout between two powerful and exciting strikers has been thrown in the co-main event slot, while a match up between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Phil Davis has landed as the night’s featured bout.
Johnson’s stance is no different, believing whole-heartedly that his bout will bring the most fireworks to Seattle, Washington’s KeyArena on March 26 and stating that Hardy and he would cap off the even better than anyone else on the card could.
“No disrespect to the guys on the main event,” Johnson said. “They are the main event but, you know, the fans are really, really looking at (my fight with Hardy) like nonstop.
“And do we deserve it? I mean, we don’t deserve anything until it’s given to us by the fans. So, if the UFC (says) we’re just co-main event status, we’ll take that, but we’ll fight like the main event. You know what I mean? And we will be the main event at the end of the night. They’re going to talk about me and Dan Hardy. We are those two calibre of guys that will put on a show that will give everybody what they want and what they need and what they deserve.”
Johnson’s absence from the Octagon last over two years, and he is welcomed back by a man who was fighting for the welterweight title just last year. But the match up, the layoff, and the speculation do not matter to “Rumble.” The only things that he is concerned about are putting on a show and finally getting back to competing in the sport he loves.
“I just want to fight,” Johnson stated simply. “What is there not to look forward to? I’m looking for a battle because I know there’s going to be one and I’m expecting Dan to really bring it. You know, I don’t expect (anything) less of the man, because that’s the kind of guy he is. So I expect the same thing out of myself.”