Welcome back to Brazil! After waiting nearly 13 years before returning to the country for UFC 134 in August, this time the UFC waited just four months to make another trip back with UFC 142 this past Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
Featuring some holdovers from UFC 134, including Edson Barboza and Rousimar Palhares, the UFC has committed to featuring the massive amount of talent from the country when it visits.
But the story of the weekend was American Anthony Johnson, who has long been known as a massive welterweight since his debut in 2007 and was making his long-awaited middleweight debut against Vitor Belfort in the co-main event.
Only, one problem: Johnson failed to make the 186 pound middleweight limit. Weighing 197 on the day of weigh-ins, Johnson embarrassed himself for the last time. As Dana White put it, it was “three strikes and you’re out”, as this was the third time Johnson failed to make weight for a fight.
Why Johnson failed to make weight we may never know for sure. His camp mentioned Johnson feeling ill the day of weigh-ins, making his weight cut more difficult. He was able to make it close to the limit before doctors told him they would not allow him to cut any more weight.
Regardless of the circumstance, weight cutting and weight limits are a pivotal part of the job, as evident by Johnson being cut from the organization for failing to comply by those rules.
Waking up for school was a chore as a child. Is it as tough as cutting 30+ pounds for a weigh-in? Just about. And much like I was able to fake a cough and convince my mother a few times that going to school just was not an option, the excuses run out, and quickly.
Eventually my mother caught on, and Anthony Johnson’s mother, Dana White, has caught on as well.
Where he goes from here is a story to be written on another day. Johnson still holds supreme talent, but being told by his camp, along with convincing himself, that he can consistently make 170 pounds was a mistake that hampered his career. Johnson should have been at middleweight this entire time.
If he is to continue in another organization, he should do so at middleweight, where he is still formidable in both stature and talent.
Biggest winner: Rousimar Palhares
While Edson Barboza’s spinning wheel kick was insanely impressive, Palhares put himself into title contention by just doing what he does- grab your leg and make it hurt. I am beginning to think that his new slogan will be “Heel hooks and flexing! That’s what Palhares does!”
He is certainly a formidable foe for anyone in a division that could use some new blood at the top. While he has been stuck in neutral for the last few years, losing to the two top contenders he has faced in Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt, Palhares definitely belongs in the top echelon of middleweight contenders.
Biggest loser: Anthony Johnson
Who else could be put here? It almost seems too literal, as Johnson was weighed in too big, and did indeed lose his job over it.
Biggest question: Can anything be done concerning strikes to the back of the head?
Mario Yamasaki stopped the Erick Silva/Carlo Prater fight early in the first round, as Silva was pummeling Prater. It made sense, and everyone assumed Silva was the victor. But then Yamasaki declared Prater the winner, as he had disqualified Silva for a punch to the back of Prater’s head.
You can argue whether that was the correct call or not. And trust me, Joe Rogan will do it. But aside from that, this is not the first time the infraction has occurred during the end of a fight. One solution for the problem that has been discussed is implementing a replay system, as much like the NFL institutes a mandatory replay for every score during a game, the UFC would replay every finish. This does seem like it could work, as the referees would have the benefit of looking over their call, and at least have comfort in knowing that they can definitely make the correct decision.
Jose Aldo vs. Hatsu Hioki
Now, this is only if Hioki wins at UFC 144 against Bart Palaszewski in February. If he loses, the spot probably goes to Dustin Poirier. Unfortunately, prime candidates for Aldo is not a very big list. He easily put away a big test in Chad Mendes, who was supposed to challenge Aldo with his strong wrestling. That never happened, as Aldo knocked Mendes out with a knee in the last seconds of the first round. Aldo’s camp has stated that he will not be moving up to lightweight immediately, so he still has a few title defenses to make until then.
Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva
This matchup has already been announced, as the pair will be opposing coaches on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, and will likely fight in the upcoming UFC return to Brazil this summer.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
Palhares deserves a challenge at middleweight, and with so many top contenders matched up in upcoming bouts, Belcher gets the call. I would be interested to see how Palhares fares against the BJJ black belt in Belcher.
Erick Silva vs. John Hathaway
Silva “won” on Saturday, and is a very talented prospect at welterweight. Another talented prospect is Hathaway, who has not fought in nearly a year. Each one has a very solid chance of being a title contender in the future at 170, and a win over the other would definitely be a big step in taking them there.
Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo
Barboza could use a guy that will test him on the ground, as he has fought exclusively on his feet throughout his UFC career. Castillo will certainly threaten him with his wrestling, and put pressure on Barboza, much like what Ross Pearson did.