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MMA Analysis: Who Will Anthony Johnson Fight Next?

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Following a win at last Saturdays UFC Live 6: Cruz vs. Johnson, add another name to the long list of contenders at 170 lbs. While Anthony “Rumble” Johnson may not weigh close to that on fight night it is the weight that he competes at and wow, did he ever put on a show in  D.C. this past Saturday Night.

While it may have been a premature stoppage by referee Mario Yamasaki, Johnson’s head kick TKO finish of Charlie Brenneman earned him a well deserved KO of the Night bonus check. Yamasaki may have spared Brenneman some unnecessary damage by stopping this fight when he did, after all this wasn’t the first head kick in a short amount of time that landed right on the mug of the Spaniard. The NCAA Division 1 wrestler in Brenneman looked helpless under Rumble on this night so things wouldn’t have gotten any better for him there either. After all, Johnson did look like a Light Heavyweight throughout the duration of this one.

So what’s next for Johnson and realistically how far away is he from a title shot? That all depends on the caliber of opponent he defeats next should he indeed extend his current two fight win streak. A win over a big name could propel him right into the proverbial mix. Here is a short list of fighters that could next on Johnson’s hit list.

Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 1 nc)

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That’s right. Fitch already has a tough test ahead of him in Johny Hendricks at UFC 141. Should Fitch defeat Hendricks it’s doubtful he’ll get a title shot right away because of Penn vs. Diaz at UFC 137. A 2012 Welterweight Title elimination bout between Fitch and Johnson would be an interesting tilt but is highly unlikely. Johnson would appear to be in a great shape and likely won’t wait until next Spring for another fight. Plus why throw a young veteran who may have just found his stride right back into the fire.

Diego Sanchez (23-4)

This would be a “Dream” fight for Johnson. The way Sanchez loves to brawl could mean advantage Rumble. Sanchez hasn’t faced someone with the power that Johnson possesses at welterweight and could find himself dreaming about dropping back down to Lightweight with a quickness. After a couple of bloodbaths with Martin Kampmann and B.J. Penn its clear that Diego is easy to open up which doesn’t bode well for Sanchez in this one either. Sanchez is currently rumored to be facing Jake Ellenberger at UFC 141 in Vegas so don’t count on this one going down anytime soon either.

Jake Shields (26-6-1)

Coming off that depressing 1st Round KO on the Bayou last month it’s not clear when Shields will be stepping back into the cage. When he does he’ll still command a top 15 Welterweight and Anthony Johnson could be that guy. Again, I like Rumble’s chances here. Shields hasn’t fared well since he made the move to the biggest stage in combat sports and he hasn’t fared well at 170 lbs. either.

Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-4, 2 nc)

Welcome down to the UFC Welterweight Division Yoshihiro Akiyama. Your first opponent may be a guy who weights more than your last four opponents come fight night. We can also assure you that he hits way harder than Michael Bisping so you may want to protect that granite jaw of yours.

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