In October of 2011, Anthony Johnson scored a head kick knockout victory over Charlie Brenneman at UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson. This was a bout that saw a huge Johnson dominate an undersized and outgunned Brenneman in every way imaginable. That seems so long ago. At the time, Johnson was a welterweight. Now, he’s a heavyweight.

The unusually large weight cut to make the 170-pound welterweight limit had been taking a toll on Johnson, so the knockout artist jumped up to middleweight following his win against Brenneman. Well, he tried, at least. He only missed the mark by 12 pounds. It was the third time Johnson had missed weight for a UFC fight. Adding insult to injury, he was choked out by Vitor Belfort in the 197-pound catchweight affair and sent packing from the UFC. It was a stiff lesson that was dealt out to a guy that continually missed the contractual weight.

Following his forced exit from the UFC, Johnson again came in heavy at 195 pounds for a scheduled middleweight bout, this time for Titan Fighting Championships. Johnson defeated UFC veteran Dave Branch, but it was a sign that he was still cutting too much weight. A migration to the light heavyweight division followed.

It seemed that Johnson had found a new home. He violently knocked out three opponents in a row. In Titan Fighting Championships, Johnson dominated Esteves Jones to a stoppage. He then went to Xtreme Fight Night and destroyed Jake Rosholt with a head kick. Finally, in his last outing and debut with World Series of Fighting, Johnson crippled D.J. Linderman with a punch that would have stopped a charging rhinoceros. Simply put, light heavyweight looked to be the new home for Johnson.

Now, it appears that Johnson has opted to go even heavier.

Saturday, Johnson headlines the World Series of Fighting 2 card in the heavyweight division against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. It is a new exotic challenge that will test Johnson against one of the top big boys not currently in the UFC.

With the success and smaller weight cut that Johnson faced at 205, it is head scratching that he would take a fight at heavyweight. He had already won three in a row in devastating fashion at light heavyweight and looked to have found a weight class in which to make a run up the rankings.

Johnson does stand a chance against Arlovski due to the uncanny power he has in his strikes and the underrated wrestling he keeps in his back pocket. Arlovski has been knocked consistently for having a questionable chin, and Johnson is the type of guy that could expose that with just one strike.

Although Johnson has a great chance of winning this fight with Arlovski, he should still focus on 205. It looks like the correct weight class for the thickly muscled striker. With his combination of wrestling and striking, he could be a real force in the division.

If Johnson decides on 205 as his weight class, he could become a top fighter in the division. Being a top fighter at a weight class gets you noticed by the UFC, and it could lead to big money outside the UFC as well. Johnson may have some fences to mend in order to regain entry into the Octagon, but the best way to get in UFC President Dana White’s good graces is to impress in the cage and make weight for fights. At light heavyweight, Johnson seems capable of meeting both goals to the fullest.

Win or lose Saturday night, Johnson needs to continue his career at light heavyweight. It is the best option for him moving forward.

Photo: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.