by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Anthony Johnson will fight this weekend on less than two months notice at Ultimate Fight Night 17 against Luigi Fioravanti.
Training for his upcoming fight, Johnson feels very confident even though it’s on short notice. “Everything is going so smooth,” he said in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “It’s going even better than… for my last fight.”
Many fighters only fight three times a year and like to space out their fights every three to four months. Johnson, however, likes to stay active and fight as often as possible. “I like to stay as busy as I can. After my fight, I went home to Georgia and got a little fat. My grandmother cooked me some food. Then the Luigi fight came up. I love fighting for the UFC, so whenever they want me to fight, 99.9% of the time I’m going to say okay. I hate not being active,” he said. “Training gets old and you want to just go in there and fight, so they gave me this opportunity and I took it.”
Johnson burst onto the scene in the Ultimate Fighting Championship when he knocked out Chad Reiner just 13 seconds into the first round. After dropping his next fight to Rich Clementi, he brutally knocked out Ultimate Fighter runner-up Tommy Speer. Though the fight that really caught everyone’s attention was Kevin Burns. Burns and Johnson were having an entertaining fight until Burns inadvertently poked Johnson in the eye. Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to continue and the fight was ruled a TKO loss, much to his chagrin.
Getting a shot at redemption, he and Burns rematched five months later at The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. Like music to his ears, Johnson collapsed Burns with a brutal head kick that left him unconscious. “Everybody was sending me texts and hitting me up on Myspace just saying ‘get your revenge and knock him out.’ With Kevin, this last time, I didn’t want to just knock him out. I wanted to beat him up a little bit and then knock him out. In my opinion, it ended the way it needed to end.”
Johnson is among the largest competitors in the welterweight division along with Georges St. Pierre and Thiago Alves. Walking around at over 200 pounds, one wonders how someone that large can cut to 170. “There’s so much cardio and dieting,” he explained. “You just have to go on a strict diet. I’m on a strict diet right now, but my weakness is gummy bears. You just got to go on a strict diet and work cardio like crazy. If you don’t do that cardio, you’re not going to lose that weight. I walk around at 203, but I can get as big as 210. When I fought Tommy Speer, I got up to 210 and dropped all the way down to 169. After weigh-ins, I probably hit 180 or 185 right off the bat easy.”
Fioravanti is a game opponent who is 4-4 in his UFC career. However, he has fought some of the best in the business such as Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, and Jon Fitch. Recognizing the task ahead, Johnson isn’t taking Fioravanti for granted. “I know he’s tough. I’ve seen his fight with Diego (Sanchez). He’s got a really good chin. Diego dropped him two or three times and Luigi hit the ground and he was fine. I give him his props that he deserves. He has one of the best camps around. American Top Team is no joke. I still got to go out there and do my job just like he does. I respect him, but I’ll still fight him.”
With a win over Fioravanti, Johnson is hoping to keep his record free from losses for the foreseeable future and not rush into a title shot that he won’t be prepared for. “My goal right now is to finish ’09 undefeated and keep getting better and better,” he stated. “I want to fight the best and eventually I want to fight for the title, but I’m not in a rush. I’m only 24 years old. A lot of people that are younger than me want a title shot after they win one fight. I’m just taking them as they come. I’m just trying to be smart about everything. I plan on making this the best year of my life so far. In 2010, I plan on doing even better. I plan on rising to the top.”