Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski (19-9, 1 NC) and former UFC welterweight standout Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (14-4) will both be looking to pick up their fifth straight win when they square off this Saturday night in the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 2 main event at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Johnson, who continuously had trouble making weight in the 170-pound division during his UFC tenure, will be making his debut at heavyweight against Arlovski. UFC President Dana White jokingly stated Johnson would probably still miss weight.
Johnson fought at light heavyweight in his WSOF debut back in November, scoring a first round knockout over D.J. Linderman. On a conference call with the media Tuesday, Johnson was asked if he is sacrificing speed or anything else by moving to heavyweight.
“Everything is still there; the speed, the power is still there,” Johnson said. “I’m still an athlete. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything except height. And of course I believe Andrei is bigger than me, just a little bit heavier than me, but overall that’s it.”
Johnson is part of the Blackzilians camp in Boca Raton, Fla. which is made up of guys like Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Tyrone Spong and others. Despite having many well known fighters in the camp they have experienced several changes in a short time with coaches leaving and the overall win/loss record for the team, well, it hasn’t been the best. On top of that, some of their most prominent fighters, most notably Evans and Overeem, looked quite lackluster in their most recent outings.
Considering all that and some of the criticism the Blackzilian camp has taken in the media, Johnson was asked what the mood has been like in the gym recently. “The vibe is still great. We don’t worry about what the media has to say,” Johnson stated.
“We just train and let the cards fall where they may. The media and all, and what everybody thinks is the last thing on our mind. We just train and we keep doing what we’re taught to do and whatever happens happens. Overall we’re like ‘screw the media’.”
Arlovski has knocked out three of his last four opponents and has looked noticeably improved since moving to Albuquerque where he trains full-time now with Jackson’s MMA. Not long ago Arlovski made it known that he’d like to return to the UFC some day. Dana White though, said a win over Johnson would not help his cause much because he doesn’t consider Johnson a legitimate heavyweight.
He may not be a “legitimate heavyweight” at 235-pounds in White’s opinion. But what he is, is a legitimate threat. Say what you will, but Anthony Johnson has serious power. With 10 of his 14 wins coming by way of knockout, Johnson always seems to be looking for the finish — and much more often than not, he gets it.
World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo rebutted a recent Tweet he’d seen saying this fight is “meaningless”. “These two guys, Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Johnson, they both had to put in an eight week camp, which is not meaningless,” Sefo said.
“They both had to go through the sacrifices that a fighter has to go through to get ready for a big night for being the main event, which is not meaningless. Again, it’s one person, but that being said, these guys put their lives on the line every single day to put on the best show they can. So please keep that in mind before you start Tweeting some silliness.”
MMA fans can tune into World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 2 this Saturday night, March 23, at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. The preliminary card will stream LIVE on Sherdog for those around the world. The main card will also stream LIVE on Sherdog, but only for those outside the U.S.