At UFC on Fox 14, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson faced the light heavyweight division’s then No. 1 contender, Alexander Gustafsson. Not only did Johnson destroy the Swede, he did so within the first round, and in his opponent’s home country as well.
Given the beating Gustafsson endured at the hands of Johnson, and taking into account the way in which Jon Jones barely secured the win against the Swede in their championship bout, it remains clear that Johnson may, in fact, represent the one to finally dethrone the light heavyweight champion.
At UFC 165, Jones struggled a great deal against Gustafsson. The matchup lasted all five rounds, leaving the champion hospitalized thereafter. In response to his win, per USA Today, Jones expressed elation and even complimented his opponent.
“He (Gustafsson) was just a tough fighter. I spent a lot of time on my boxing in this camp. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea. I should have been like water and used more versatility. But hat’s off to Alexander (Gustafsson). That was by far my toughest fight, and I really got to exercise my warrior spirit tonight. That makes me happier than getting the win.”
Similarly, at UFC on Fox 14, Johnson finished Gustafsson 91 times faster than when the latter fighter faced off against the champion. During their matchup, Rumble’s power served as the key difference. Almost every strike by Johnson made Gustafsson cringe. The Swede was rocked midway through the first round. Then, he turtled up and absorbed uppercuts that damaged Gustafsson to the point that the referee stopped the bout at two minutes, 15 seconds.
All of Johnson’s 13 finishes have come via knockout, which represents a testament to his power. Rumble’s heavy hands have knocked out MMA veterans in Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Mike Pyle. Per MMA Fighting, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans praised Johnson’s power and stated that Rumble would finish Jones “within the first two rounds.”
— Blackzilians (@blackzilians) January 27, 2015
“I think that if they start exchanging, which they will, because AJ (Johnson) brings a lot of pressure, he’ll knock him (Jones) out… I’ll say within the first two rounds for sure. To say like that makes it sound like I don’t have any respect for Jon Jones and what he’s done as far as being a champion. But let’s be honest here, what it comes down to is punching power, this kid (Johnson) can really hit.”
The bout between Jones and Johnson represents one of the most anticipated matchups of 2015, and is sure to produce significant pay-per-view buys for the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world.
[Featured Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports]