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Friday, 04/25/2014, 08:49 am

Anthony Johnson Says Fight With Vitor Belfort Taught Him – ‘protect myself, protect my neck’

At the beginning of last year, two huge bulls in the middleweight division were set to square off at UFC 142: Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson. And when the combatants had their day-before weigh-ins take place, Belfort came in at the maximum allowed weight, a healthy 186 pounds.

… what Anthony weighed in at, however, was an astonishing 197 pounds. That’s an eleven pound disparity between the two men. Vitor was obviously angry, but he was fighting in front of his countrymen… and he wanted to fight. So, he told Anthony that he would fight him… IF Johnson can keep his weight under 205 pounds the night of the fight. If not, then he would not be getting inside of the Octagon with him.

Johnson weighed in at 204.2. Under the “required” 205 mark, sure. But his size advantage over Vitor was incredible. It was like we were back in 1996, watching UFC 8 – “David vs. Goliath”.

But, just like in the story of the giant and the little boy with a slingshot, Vitor felled the ”Rumbling” giant with a single blow. Not with a slingshot and rock, however… but with a rear naked choke.

Nowadays, “David” and “Goliath” are training in the same camp, the Blackzilians. And Johnson is taking that valuable lesson that Vitor taught him into his training camps. Does that mean that we can expect a more talented ground game from “Rumble”, this time around?

“I’ve learned to protect myself, protect my neck. I trained specifically to that fight and, now, I train jiu-jitsu even more. It will be hard for Phil Davis to submit me. Definitely, harder than was for Vitor.” Anthony told Tatame.com.

And what about just being back in the UFC fold? How good does that feel for the onetime welterweight, now turned light heavyweight, who will be squaring off against Phil Davis this Saturday at UFC 172?

“Return to the UFC means a lot to me, even more because I’m facing someone like Davis. This shows how hard I worked in this gap. When I left, I thought that I would never come back. I was only thinking about fighting and having fun. On Saturday I’m looking forward to keeping the fight standing up. He will have a long night if he won’t be able to keep me in the ground.”

We’ll see if Rumble has all of the pieces together, this Saturday night.

By Jim Chadwick | Twitter

 

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