Anthony Johnson vowed to break Vitor Belfort tonight in Rio, but when their middleweight (sort of) fight had ended, it was because Rumble had tapped the canvas.
Normally competing as an emaciated welterweight, Johnson was intended to make his debut at 185lbs. and was expected to look better than ever for not cutting more weight. By weigh-ins though, Johnson tipped the scale eleven pounds over, reportedly for experiencing medical issues during his weight cut which UFC doctors treated by administering fluids.
Exhausted and emaciated from making the contracted weight, Belfort accepted to fight Johnson despite his failure to meet the mark, believing in himself over Johnson’s size. Once in the cage, that size was apparent, Johnson somehow a more looming figure even competing a weight class higher. And true to reports, Johnson looked mean and powerful once the fight got underway. Chasing after a game and returning Belfort, Johnson quickly bulled through a kick to slam Belfort to the mat, where he began dishing out serious damage from the top position.
His face swollen badly on the right side, Belfort unleashed hell for as long as he could keep to his feet, which became longer and longer as Johnson quickly withered. After stuffing one final, half-hearted takedown attempt, Belfort abandoned punching Rumble to engage in the ground game, quickly taking his back and tapping him out with a rear naked choke.
In victory, Belfort challenges the stereotype that he wilts quickly when he doesn’t get off early. He also improves to 21-9 as a pro and makes it two in a row – both first round finishes – since losing to Anderson Silva early last year.
Johnson falls to 10-4, in addition to having a two-fight winning streak broken. Missing weight as he did and clearly drawing the ire of UFC president Dana White in the process, Johnson’s must be feeling uneasy about his future.