Anthony Johnson is the type of fighter who has the ability to take you down to the mat with his wrestling background, but has the desire to want to knock you out, as well.
When Johnson (9-3) meets Charlie Brenneman (14-2) this Saturday night on Versus at UFC Live 6 from Washington, D.C., he will be looking to put all of his skills on full display.
“I think this fight right here will show a lot with my takedown defense, takedowns, and striking,” said Johnson, in an interview with UFC.com recently. “Each fight is a step forward and I think I get better and better in every fight. I think my performance against Dan Hardy was one of my worst ones, but after being out for a year, I came in and did what I had to do. But Brenneman’s really gonna bring out the fighter in me.”
“Rumble” has overcome a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for over a year. He defeated Hardy in March, and has won three of his last four fights, with the lone loss coming to Josh Koscheck via submission.
While Johnson and Brenneman own a combined 11 wins by knockout, it is possible that the two try to one-up each other on the mat. Johnson is a former NJCAA wrestling champion while competing at Lassen College, while Brenneman wrestled at Lock Haven University for four years.
“Brenneman feels his wrestling is better than mine, and I feel mine is better than his, and that’s just where we’re at. We’re two competitive guys who come from the toughest sport in the world besides MMA, and that’s just how we think,” Johnson said. “But do we take our opponent’s talent for granted? No, not at all, because we know that one takedown could be a win or loss for a round. It’s gonna be fun and I’ve got a lot of respect for Charlie and his camp.”
Those comments may disappoint some who want to see nothing but a stand-up, punch-for-punch war between two men, but Johnson knows that to have a successful and long career in MMA, he can’t be involved in too many of those battles.
“People who don’t know fighting and that just want to see people go in there and try to knock each other’s head off, they didn’t like it all (talking about his fight with Hardy where he used wrestling to control the action),” Johnson said. “They just want to see a bloodsport, and that’s not what MMA is all about. To me, this is my career, it’s my body, it’s my fight, and I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do to win. And if I have to play that physiological game with somebody, I’ll do that.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: This is a fight that could go a long way in clarifying one of these two men as a true contender welterweight division, as both are coming off strong victories. Brenneman shocked people when he defeated Rick Story, while Johnson’s inability to stay healthy and make weight has kept him from climbing the ladder. If “Rumble” can impose his will, he should be able to control Brenneman on the ground and pick up a victory.