The big talking point at the UFC 104 weigh in’s was Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson coming in 6lbs overweight for his 170lb clash with Yoshiyuki Yoshida. It has however been no big secret leading up to the fight that Johnson was struggling with his weight.
In May of this year Johnson pulled out of his fight with Matt Brown at the Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Finale when he injured his knee. Whilst in recovery his weight ballooned to well over 200lbs, giving him a tough road back to fitness for his fight at UFC 104.
Below, we track the time-line of his weight issues over the past couple of months via interviews and articles with the fighter.
August 15th: MMANEWS.com interview with Anthony Johnson
Close to 6 weeks out from the fight and a heavy looking Johnson was interviewed by mmanews.com at the Strikeforce: Carano Vs Cyborg event, and he was already referencing his weight issues.
“I’ve really been focusing on my cardio right now…you know, getting this weight off cos I got kind of big.” He says before adding, “…but i’m not really worried about my weight or anything like that, so…this coming Monday I’m going to start hitting the gym even harder.”
10th October: Interview with promma.info
Fast forward to two weeks before the fight and AJ was interviewed by promma.info at the 2009 Gracie Open, and we get a hint that things aren’t going quite according to plan. The interviewer asks, “Is the hard training done? Are you just focusing on the mental side?” The question appears to catch Johnson off-guard and after a pause, and some umming and ahhing he eventually says, “As far as how I’m looking…at least I feel great, I’m not going to say I look that great.”
Clearly the weight issue is still on his mind as he brings it up again later on without being prompted when asked if he’d like to fight again before the end of the year..
“This time I’m going to stay pretty healthy and keep my weight down,” he says before admitting that after his last injury, “I got heavy and I got big…but that won’t happen this time I promise.”
15th October: Yahoo Sports! Article with AJ
An article by Kevin Iole on October 15th causes a stir when he reveals that, “Johnson, who is a broad-shouldered 6-foot-2, weighed 220 pounds when he began training for Yoshida.” He also states that the fighter is now at 190lbs, some 19lbs over the weight limit with nine days left until the fight.
Johnson admits to Iole that the weight issue is on his mind. “The only pressure I feel, honestly, is the pressure to make the weight,” he says. “Once I’m on weight, I know everything else will take care of itself.”
20th October: Anthony Johnson UFC 104 Video Blog
On to the week of the fight and Johnson does a video blog for the UFC. A minute in to it he mentions that, “Everybody’s worried about my weight and everything like that, but I’m not worried about it.”
October 23rd: Twitter post from Steve Cofield
It’s the day before the fight and a tweet from Yahoo! Sports Steve Cofield suggests that Johnson’s attempts to cut to 170lb have taken there toll on the fighter.
“Will Johnson make weight? Just saw him being carried up LA street.”
October 23rd: Weigh-Ins In
Time for the weigh-ins. Johnson looks extremely lethargic and embarrassed as he steps up to the scales to be told he’s 5lbs over the 171lb limit. It is then announced that Yoshida has agreed to fight him at that weight.
(Johnson appears at 1.38 in the video below):
October 24th: Interview with heavy.com hours before the fight
In the afternoon before his fight heavy.com grabbed a few words with the fighter and, as you might expect, he was still feeling disappointed over the previous days events. He is however still up for the challenge that lies ahead of him this evening.
“I woke up this morning and told everybody that I’m ready to fight. The weight thing bummed me out because I was determined to make it and I was on the path to making it. I just didn’t have enough time or didn’t plan for enough time. I can’t blame anybody but myself. But I guarantee you that the next time you see me fight, it’ll be a fighter like you’ve never seen before.”
Later tonight we’ll find out just how much of a toll the weight cut will take on his performance.