Anthony Johnson is back in the UFC and you better believe he’s a force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division.
Johnson dominated contender Phil Davis in a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) victory at UFC 172 on Saturday night here at Baltimore Arena. The win puts "Rumble" right in the thick of things in the 205-pound division.
"It’s been a long road coming," Johnson said.
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"Rumble" was ousted from the UFC in 2012 after failing to make weight multiple times at both welterweight and middleweight. He went 6-0 outside the Octagon after that at light heavyweight, the last three fights in World Series of Fighting. Johnson (17-4) was re-signed by the UFC in February and he’s certainly back with a bang.
"Since I left, I’ve matured so much," the Blackzilians fighter said.
"Rumble" hit Davis hard in the first round and didn’t lose any steam, either. Davis, a former NCAA wrestling champion, was unable to take him to the ground. Instead, Johnson was the more physically dominant fighter, overpowering and outstriking Davis at every turn.
Johnson gave some of the credit to UFC president Dana White for motivating him. White said this week that "Rumble" would be banished from the UFC and never asked back of he missed weight again. Johnson weighed in Friday at an even 205.
"He’s the man who changed me," Johnson sad. "Made me turn into a beast."
Davis (12-2, 1 NC), who had won three fights in a row, was the one drawing headlines this week for his verbal attack on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Davis said he would "beat the brakes off" Johnson and then call out Jones in the Octagon.
As it turned out, it was Johnson who was the one standing in the center of the cage next to Joe Rogan. Any talk of Davis fighting Jones is long gone now. Johnson has now taken Davis’ place in the 205-pound title picture, which is amazing considering Johnson once competed at 170.