Given that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was a notoriously large 170-pounder who had trouble making weight frequently, it was only natural that the 27-year-old would eventually test the waters a division above at middleweight.
Johnson will make his debut at 185 next Saturday, taking on veteran Vitor Belfort on his home turf in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though he’s been given no easy out in his first middleweight contest, Johnson is nothing but excited to enter the cage feeling less drained.
“I weigh 215 right now and I still feel great,” Rumble said on yesterday’s UFC 142 media conference call. “The weight is gonna come off no problem. I’ll end up cutting my last little bit of weight the day before weigh-ins. This is easy. This is gonna be a lot of fun for me, so that’s why I feel so good, because I don’t have to cut the weight that I used to cut. I’m more explosive, I’m more athletic, everything has just come to where it needs to be right now. I’m peaking at the right time.”
Likely as it’s dependent upon his performance against Belfort and how he feels competing with more weight on his frame, Johnson won’t exactly commit to a long term future at middleweight, though he admits that, at the moment, it feels pretty good.
“Right now, middleweight is where I am. That’s all I’m thinking about,” he said. “I really don’t mind fighting middleweights because I get to eat more now. I feel a thousand times better than when I fought at 170. That’s why I’m so happy and just wanna fight really bad.”
Johnson will meet Belfort in the main event of UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes, which goes down next Saturday night at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.