Cutting weight has become as much a part of MMA as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai are. While cutting weight to compete in a lower weight class can be advantageous for fighters looking to gain an additional size and strength edge there is a point of diminishing returns; something Anthony “Rumble” Johnson knows all too well.

Johnson is a monster physically; standing 6’2” and walking around at nearly 230 pounds, he looks like a heavyweight. But when Johnson first began competing in the UFC he did so at welterweight; that means Johnson was cutting nearly 60 pounds over the course of his fight camps. While Johnson was able to compete at a high level, he was never able to reach his full potential; not to mention the fact he struggled to make weight on a consistent basis.

His struggles with weight were so bad that even when he attempted to move up to middleweight, he still missed weight by over 10 pounds. That was the third time that Johnson has missed weight in the UFC and that was a major factor in him being cut from the promotion in 2012.

The release from the UFC was a turning point for Johnson. He did try to make middleweight again in his first bout outside of the UFC, but he failed to do so. That second miss at middleweight prompted Johnson to make the jump to light heavyweight and he has looked spectacular since.

Johnson has always been an explosive athlete, but now that he is at 205 his explosiveness has gone off the charts. He looks healthy, he looks powerful and he finally looks like the fighter many believed he could be from the start.

At UFC on Fox 14 on Saturday, January 24th, Johnson has an opportunity to become the number one contender for the UFC light heavyweight title, but he has to get though former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Gustafsson just came up short in his first UFC title bid against Jon Jones and he is hungry for another opportunity. Johnson is going to have to bring his a game Saturday because Gustafsson is every bit as talented and athletic as he is.

Be Physical

One of the biggest advantages Johnson is going to have in this bout is his freak of nature physicality. Johnson is a big, thick and powerful light heavyweight – and I still can’t believe this guy actually made 170 pounds – and he has to use that to his advantage by forcing Gustafsson against the cage and bullying him in the clinch.

Gustafsson is going to come into this bout ready for a war of attrition and Johnson needs to eat up as much of his energy as he can early. If Johnson can tire Gustafsson out and force him to make mistakes,Johnson has the power to put him to sleep.

Mix in Wrestling

Gustafsson is too good a fighter to fight one dimensionally; Johnson needs to have a varied attack ready and he needs to mix in his wrestling to keep Gustafsson guessing in the cage. Johnson isn’t a Daniel Cormier level wrestler by any means, but he is a former NJCAA National Champion and he has the tools to bring the fight to the mat. If Johnson is going to win this bout he is going to have to being all of his weapons to the cage.

Maintain Composure

Johnson has had cardio issues in the past and while the massive weight cuts he was during played a huge role in that, it’s something to keep in mind. Having never been past the third round of a fight, it’s hard to gauge whether or not Johnson can really go five rounds, and that’s why it’s important that he maintain his composure.

Gustafsson is tough as nails and he has never been knocked out, so if Johnson hurts him he can’t exhaust all of his energy trying to put him out. Johnson needs to pick his shots and take calculated risks. If he can do that he has a great chance to become the number one contender.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.