Anthony “Rumble” Johnson finally makes his middleweight debut this Saturday, having long forced himself through a torturous weight cut to compete as a blown up welterweight.
Ever since he first missed weight on a UFC card, it’s been hypothesized that Johnson would be best served by moving up in weight to compete less depleted. Now, under the guidance of new trainers, Johnson will be testing that theory out, taking on seasoned veteran Vitor Belfort this Saturday at UFC 142. The 27-year-old spoke with MMAFighting’s Ben Fowlkes just a few days shy of his fight, admitting that he knew he would be moving up eventually, but hadn’t exactly planned on doing it this early in his career.
“Everybody’s been talking about me going up to 185. It came sooner than I expected, but it’s here now. What am I going to do? I’m not going to back down from any opponent. I’m not going to let people second-guess me or think that I’m scared of 185.”
In Belfort, Johnson faces an experienced fighter with dynamite in both hands and a wealth of MMA knowledge to pull from. Though Rumble recognizes he’s facing a formidable opponent, he knows that Belfort is just as human as himself, just as subject to to wilt under a relentless assault.
“His hands are always the most dangerous part, especially in that first round. …But I’m sure Vitor doesn’t want to get embarrassed, so he’s going to come in really good shape. I’m putting a lot of pressure on him. I’m beating the hell out of him. Vitor, to me, is just like everybody else,” Johnson said. “He’s a human. He’s a fighter just like me. He’s been around for a while, but so what? That doesn’t mean anything to me. I respect him, but this is a fight.”
Johnson and Belfort will do battle this Saturday night at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the co-main event of UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes.