The second World Series of Fighting event, taking place on March 23rd, is worth tuning in to just in the highly improbable, but not impossible, event that Johnson misses weight once again. Throughout his tenure in the UFC, Johnson had consistently struggled with the weight cutting process. Johnson missed weight at UFC 76 against Rich Clementi and at UFC 104 against Yoshiyuki Yoshida. UFC 142 marked Johnson’s middleweight debut where many expected a rebirth of Rumble as the 15 pound difference between weight classes would have seemingly made cutting weight easier for the extremely muscular, 6’2” Johnson. However, a doctor ordered Johnson to stop cutting weight before the UFC 142 weigh-ins, as the cutting process was apparently endangering Johnson’s health. The results were Johnson tipping the scales at 197 pounds, 11 pounds over the middleweight limit, and the birth of the fictional weight class “Rumbleweight”.
After being RNC’ed out of the UFC, Johnson signed with Titan Fighting Championships and once again missed the middleweight limit, this time by 8 pounds. Johnson beat David Branch via unanimous decision in what became a catch-weight bout. Moving up again, this time to light heavy-weight, Johnson rattled off three devastating finishes, the third being a knock out over D.J. Linderman in the first WSOF event. On March 23rd, Johnson will move up in weight once again, this time to heavyweight to square off with Arlovski.
After losing 4 fights in a row to heavy-handed strikers Fedor Emilianenko, Brett Rodgers, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and Sergei Kharitonov, three of which were by KO or TKO, there were calls for Arlovski's retirement. They feared the Belarusian's chin was beginning to show the signs of a long career in mixed martial arts. However, Arlovski has seemingly gone back to his old ways and has won three of his last 5 fights by KO or TKO and 1 by unanimous decision. The no contest came from kicking grounded opponent and heated rival, Tim Sylvia, in their One FC 5 match up. The four fight losing streak seems to be behind “The Pitbull” now as he is coming into his second World Series of Fighting main event touting a string of brutal finishes.
Despite one of these men being a career-long heavyweight and the other fighting at welterweight until late 2011, this match-up has the potential to be rather competitive. Sherdog Fightfinder lists Arlovski as 6’4” (FightMetric says 6’3”) and both sites list Johnson as 6’2”. FightMetric gives Johnson a one-inch reach advantage, which makes one realize what a massive welterweight he was. Both men are renowned for their vicious striking and knockout power in their hands and feet. I expect this fight to be determined by the unknowns. How will “Rumble” handle the move up in weight classes? Will the added weight and muscle cause him to gas? Will Arlovski’s questionable chin hold up against the former welterweight’s power? Will Johnson miss the 265 pound limit?! We will find out March 23rd in Atlantic City.