Before former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Anthony Johnson turned into a humongous freak of nature, he was a 23-year-old oversized up-and-comer trying to carve out a home at 170 pounds. Standing a rock-solid 6’2,” making the cut proved to be a near-impossible task, with “Rumble” missing his mark twice and ultimatey being forced up to Middleweight (where he also failed on the scale).
In hindsight, his weighty struggles were the “best thing to ever happen to him.” His own words:
“I think my body was changing, know what I mean? It was trying to adapt. I started I guess getting my grown man body all of a sudden, know what I mean? I’m not trying to make excuses for anything, it just happened. Honestly, that’s the best thing that happened to me, with the weight stuff and then being cut from the UFC. That’s the best thing that ever happened to me since I started MMA.”
We’re talking about a “growing man” who had to shed 60 pounds in two months (230 down to 170) ahead of his fight with Dan Hardy back in 2011. That’s dangerous, to the point of life-threatening, and undoubtedly unsustainable.
And that’s the inspiration for recent comments that current top-ranked Welterweight contender, Kamaru Usman (No. 6), made when asked about another oversized up-and-coming Welterweight, Darren Till, who will next challenge division champion, Tyron Woodley, at UFC 228 on Sept. 8, 2018. While not as tall as Johnson, Till (6’0”) is huge for the division and unsurprisingly, has had trouble making weight.
“With Darren Till, he’s shown that it’s a weight issue,” Usman told Luke Thomas on the latest episode of The MMA Hour (transcription via MMAFighting.com). “He’s a big guy. It’s not his fault, he’s growing, he’s a human being — he’s a big guy.... “For [Till] it’s especially tough. What it reminds me of is Anthony Johnson continuously trying to make 170 back in the day. This was the same struggle and I bet it’s the same for him.”
Usman, of course, has a vested interest in whether or not Till can hit his mark in Dallas, Texas, next month. That’s because “Nigerian Nightmare” will serve as a potential replacement if UFC 228’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event goes sideways. Indeed, if either Woodley or Till is unable to compete for any reason, Usman would step in on short notice and keep the main event intact. He will not only submit medicals but also weigh in during fight week.
That’s quite the insurance policy, but one can never be to sure these days. It’s a USADA world and the bigger, IV-less fighters are just living in it.