After just one fight back in the UFC, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson finds himself rubbing shoulders with the top ranked fighters on the promotion’s official light-heavyweight rankings.
‘Rumble’ had produced a six-fight winning streak outside of the UFC before his return which left him ranked at No.14 heading into Saturday night’s fight, but his stock rose dramatically overnight after handing the No.4 ranked contender Phil Davis a one-sided beatdown at UFC 172.
As a result he’s now leapt nine places in the rankings to No.5, sandwiched between Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier.
It’s an impressive return to the big stage for Johnson who was at a low ebb just a couple of years ago when he was beaten by Vitor Belfort in the first round and then kicked out of the UFC for his repeated failure to make weight.
Johnson didn’t just sit around feeling sorry for himself though and instead went back to the drawing board, making the decision to abandon his almost impossible weight-cuts down to the welterweight division, and instead remoddeled himself as a light-heavyweight.
No doubt he was worried at the possibility that he might lose his punching power by moving up a full two weight-classes, but impressively the KO’s have kept coming, and even when he hasn’t stopped his opponents he’s beaten them up badly – leaving Andrei Arlovski with a broken jaw (in a heavyweight fight) and Phil Davis with a busted up left eye.
While that kind of offensive output will draw the most attention, it was also a major feather in his cap that he was able to repeatedly stuff the takedown attempts from a high-level wrestler like Davis on Saturday night.
Johnson is certain to get a big name opponent next and the result of that fight will give a better impression of whether he truly deserves his current top 5 status in the highly competitive 205lb division, but for the time being ‘Rumble’ deserves the plaudits he’s received for managing to get his career back on track in a big way.