In a move that surprised many, longtime UFC welterweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson announced that his next fight would take place in the middleweight division against one of the best fighters in the sport, Vitor Belfort. Always a large 170-pounder, Rumble is excited by the challenges that await him at 185lbs. and in Belfort specifically; the 27-year-old recently told LowKick.com about meeting Belfort for the first time and looking up to him as a fighter.
“I knocked out my opponent in one minute and nine seconds – something like that. Vitor happened to be in the crowd, Shogun Rua was too. After the fight, Vitor gave me props and shook my hand. I never thought I’d be fighting a man who I shook hands with many years ago,” said Rumble. “I’m a fan of Vitor Belfort and always will be. It’s going to be fun fighting him.”
Johnson will meet Belfort in hostile territory, facing The Phenom in his backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Good or ill, he expects a raucous reception from the Brazilian fans and is looking forward to fighting one of their heroes a division north of his normal weight class.
“Brazil is the MMA capital of the world. I know the Brazilians can get a little wild, but I’m really looking forward to this,” he said. “It’s going to be fun fighting at 185 and I’m blessed that the UFC gave me this chance.”
Johnson and Belfort are slated to meet at UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro on January 14, 2012. Do you think Rumble’s move to middleweight was a wise one? Should he have taken an easier fight than Belfort for his first in he division? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.