In a surprise bit of matchmaking, the UFC has announced today that Anthony Johnson will be moving up to middleweight to face Vitor Belfort in Brazil at UFC 142.
After suffering a frustrating loss to Josh Koscheck in 2009, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson rebounded to outwrestle Dan Hardy and kick a surging Charlie Brenneman’s head through the uprights, building a two-fight winning streak and bringing his record to 10-3. Johnson has flirted with a move to middleweight for some time, having always struggled to make 170lbs., to the point where he’s had to face two UFC opponents at catchweights. Belfort also represents the most accomplished opponent that the 27-year-old has yet faced.
Vitor Belfort was cast as one of the toughest fighters to ever challenge for UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva’s title, but you could hardly tell on fight night. Silva blasted Belfort into unconsciousness with a highlight-reel front kick, halting his UFC title hopes for the near future. However, the MMA veteran got back on track in a big way this past August, knocking out the very durable Yoshihiro Akiyama in one round.
UFC 142 has yet to be officially announced by the UFC, but is expected to take place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will likely also feature a featherweight title fight between champ Jose Aldo and challenger Chad Mendes.