After coming to grips that he could no longer squeeze his massive light heavyweight (even heavyweight) body into a welterweight frame, Anthony Johnson (pictured) transformed into an absolute beast.
He rattled off nine straight wins en route to becoming the most physically imposing man in the 205-pound division. He’s got strength, speed, skills, experience, power and athleticism. So why didn’t he plaster Daniel Cormier at UFC 187 and capture the vacant light heavyweight title?
It appeared to be headed that way when he clobber Cormier with a right hand that sent the former Olympian to the canvas just seconds into their scrap.
However, cardio proved to be Johnson’s kryptonite.
Instead of seizing the moment, Johnson ceased to move. Johnson was so gassed after just the second round that he had trouble picking himself up off the mat to walk back to his corner.
It got so bad that Johnson’s cornerman was screaming at him to not give up. That was BEFORE Cormier locked in a rear-naked choke in the third round to seal the deal.
“I can’t lie, he wrestled the hell out of me tonight,” Johnson said at the UFC 187 post-fight press conference. “Daniel did an awesome job. He definitely made me carry his weight and he’s heavy as hell. It wasn’t an adrenaline dump. This motherf****r is heavy. I’m just glad to be in this moment right now. I can’t take anything away from Daniel, he did his thing. I’m happy for him, I’m proud of him and I wish him nothing but success.”
Johnson thrashed former top contender Alexander Gustafsson to earn his spot, so he was supposed to be there. At some point, for some unknown reason, this gentle giant turned into the man who was just happy to be there.
“A lot of people would have given up if they went through what I went through,” Johnson shared. “I’m just proud of myself for not giving up and be able to try and be the best person I can be and do the best that I can do and try to be something in life. My goal is still to be champion one day. I was on a nine-fight win streak and Daniel just defeated me, but I promise I’ll be back.
“I don’t care who I have to fight, when I have to fight them or where I have to fight them. I will be back and whoever’s there, hey, let’s do it.”
There’s no issue with “Rumble” being humble, that’s a refreshing characteristic from a professional athlete. But inside the cage there should be no off button to Beast Mode, especially after just 10 minutes of a scheduled 25-minute fight.
If Johnson can work out his cardio issues, then the 31-year-old could very well sit atop the throne one day. Until then, Johnson will merely be the deadliest one-round fighter in MMA.