Heading into last night's showdown against Dan Hardy at UFC Fight Night 24, Anthony Johnson had proclaimed over and over that the fight would absolutely NOT be heading to the ground. He went so far as to say, "we don't like that lovey-dovey stuff."
Today you can call him a liar.
Not to say you should, but considering the fact his co-main event fight spent its entirety being contested on the floor, well, no one could blame you. So why did he elect to go against everything he said in the build-up to the bout?
The same reason Anderson Silva strikes with his opponents and Georges St. Pierre takes his down -- because it was the winning strategy, and after over a year away from the cage, that was more important to Johnson than pleasing the fans but possibly losing in the process.
At least, that's what he said at the post-fight press conference (via MMAFighting.com):
"I was kind of disappointed in myself because I like to finish fights and this was just one of those times I didn't finish it. Deep down inside, like I said, I wanted to finish the fight, but I just needed to win. After being out for a year and some change, I just needed to get back in the grove of things and just get the win. I didn't really need to go for the knockout or the submission. And I'm not really a submissions guy, but I tried some stuff. I knew I could bang with him. That was no problem. I knew I could do that, but I knew his weakness was his wrestling, and I know that's one of my strengths. I just took it to my advantage and used it."
Fans may not have been happy with the outcome of the fight but it's hard to argue against a smart gameplan, one that "Rumble" implemented to perfection.
And it's not like he was just laying on Hardy; he was actively looking for submissions while pounding away and looking to finish the fight.
That said, the finish never came, at least not until the horn sounded and the judges declared Johnson the winner. But how much did he really gain from this victory?
Probably not many supporters but there can be no denying it -- Anthony Johnson is back and he just might be a forced to be reckoned with -- right?