Johnson will make his official 185lb debut on Saturday night against Vitor Belfort, but Evans, who trains with Johnson at the Blackzilian camp in Florida, is already convinced his teammate is going to be a killer in his new weight class.
Evans chalks it up to the amount of time that Johnson actually has to train and focus on technique, as opposed to how much time he spent in the past worrying about making weight to cut to 170lbs.
“Where he is right now, he’s so scary. You can’t imagine how much of a difference moving up to middleweight has made to not only his strength but also his technique. As a welterweight, maybe 60% of his camp was about making 170lbs, leaving only 40% for boxing, striking, wrestling, BJJ, judo and everything else. Much less than half of his time was actually spent on improving his skills and transitions,” Evans said on Friday.
“Now he’s spending maybe 80% and more on technique and real fitness training, not just training to lose pounds. He’s a scary, scary athlete right now. In practice with him some times, I was “Damn! What the hell is happening here? I’m not used to getting my ass kicked like this!” but he was just so ‘on’ he was beating my ass all over the gym on certain days.”
Evans understands how dangerous Belfort is on his feet and with his jiu-jitsu skills, but he believes the Brazilian is about to run into a new kind of beast at UFC 142.
“I like Vitor a lot, and everyone respects him as a fighter, but Rumble will send a message to the entire division this Saturday in Rio,” said Evans. “Honestly, being up a weight is the best thing he ever did. There’s no doubt in my mind he will be challenging everyone in the division. It’s ridiculous, the difference it has made.”
The warning that Evans issues isn’t just to Belfort, it’s to all middleweights, where he believes his teammate can rule supreme.
Obviously, Johnson has to get the first fight out of the way first on Saturday night in Rio, but Evans is sold on ‘Rumble’ taking out the best of the best at 185lbs.
It all starts with Vitor Belfort on Saturday night.
“Keeping it real, Rumble can beat anyone in the entire division,” Evans stated. “He will be fighting for the UFC middleweight title in 2012. I almost feel bad for ruining the surprise of how badass he is as middleweight, but you’ll see to see the fight tomorrow to appreciate what I mean.”
Evans is still in his own training camp to finish up his preparation for a Jan 28 showdown against Phil Davis in the main event for UFC on Fox 2. If Evans is successful, he’ll face former training partner and friend Jon ‘Bones’ Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title later this year.