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The Weighty Issues of Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson

It’s really just become another MMA meme at this point. Former UFC fighter Anthony Johnson has once again missed weight for an upcoming bout, this time against David Branch at Titan FC 22. Johnson tipped the scales 194.2 lb.

If it were anyone else, one would have to assume that something went wrong in camp, but it’s Anthony Johnson. The very reason “Rumble” is no longer under the Zuffa banner is his constant propensity to flake out on the scales. Looking back on his career, one will find that Anthony Johnson has failed to make weight on four separate occasions, across two weight classes, no less.

The majority of the Blackzillian fighter’s career was spent at welterweight, which seems almost unfathomable for reasons we’ll delve into later. Johnson, a massive individual who is known to balloon up to around 220 lb in between fights, first failed to hit the mark against Rich Clementi at UFC 76, his fifth professional bout. Johnson tipped the scales at 177, citing an undisclosed injury, he would eventually fall to a rear-naked choke at 3:05 of the second stanza.

A little over two years later at UFC 104, now owning a 7-2  record, the Georgia native would again miss weight. Johnson came in at 176 lb. Fortunately for “Rumble”, he blitzed Yoshiyuki Yoshida in a mere 41 seconds. Johnson revealed that a knee injury which kept him out of a previous bout was at fault.

After amassing a 10-3 record at welterweight, he’d had enough of the hard weight cuts; he would move up to middleweight to challenge Vitor Belfort at UFC 142. In what proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, Johnson, now given 15 extra pounds of leeway, missed the mark by an egregious 12 lb. UFC president Dana White had enough, “He moved to middleweight so we wouldn’t have to deal with this problem,”   stated the outspoken president, going on to say he was “beyond pissed”. Johnson had such a hard time making the 185 lb limit, that his kidneys ostensibly shut down. He immediately needed to stop the weight cutting process and be given IVs. Belfort finished “Rumble” at 4:59 of the opening period of their meeting.

With that, Zuffa brass and MMA fans alike were fed up with the heavy-hitter. He was handed his walking papers almost immediately after the bout. “I decided I was going to fire him on Friday when he missed weight again,” said White, still disgusted. Losing his place in the world’s premier MMA promotion ostensibly didn’t do much for Johnson. As previously mentioned, he has missed weight again by 9 lb in his post-UFC debut, again at middleweight.

Either Johnson is one of the fighters with the absolute worst luck in the history of the sport or there is another problem. Given his recent move to the Blazkzillian team, joining consummate professionals the likes of Rashad Evans,  we know the issue doesn’t lie within the walls of his camp. The inability to make middleweight after years of fighting at a weight that is 15 lb lower shows that the problem is with “Rumble” himself.

Johnson has shown in his various outings that he is very athletic, yet he somehow can’t do the one thing he is required to do before fights. The man needs to seek some sort of help. I’m not sure what his issues are, they may be mental, possibly even his lifestyle choices. If he wants to continue to compete at the highest levels of the sport, he needs to change something.

MMA fans are amongst the harshest, unforgiving critics in the world. A trip to Johnson’s wikipedia page as of this writing has the striker listed as “Fighting out of Burger King” and has seen his nickname changed to “Uncle Phil”, a snide reference to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s obese uncle.

The sport has evolved to a point where the freak show aspect has been turned down, as evident from the recent controversy over Bob Sapp’s interview with Ariel Helwani, which has shown that sideshow attractions in the sport are persona non grata. With national coverage, a network TV deal, and a continually-growing fan base, Johnson can’t afford to be “that guy”. As it stands, he has become a running joke amongst MMA fandom, which is unfortunate because the man has actual skills and could have a promising career once again, if only he can sort these issues out.

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