Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Another fight, another weight issue for Anthony Johnson. A Friday night bout that will mark his first since his UFC release has been reset at a 195-pound catch weight despite numerous previous announcements it would be contested at 185.
The Titan Fighting 22 bout was originally advertised as a middleweight bout, but on Thursday's edition of Bloody Elbow Radio, promoter Joe Kelly said that Johnson and opponent Dave Branch had signed catch weight contracts instead. Johnson weighed in at 194.2 while Branch was 189.2.
It appears though, that the change was quite recent. A press release distributed as recently as May 7 trumpeted the fight at 185, headlined "Top Middleweights Battle at Titan Fighting 22." In addition, in a recent interview, Branch made it clear that the bout was agreed to at 185. Finally, a feature produced by "Inside MMA" just this week confirms the fight was scheduled at middleweight.
Back in March, when he signed the deal with Titan, Johnson himself told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani that he was exclusively a middleweight.
During that interview, Helwani asked him, "You're confident, you can tell us right now, you can make that 185-pound limit when you fight on May 25th, right?"
"Yep," he said. "I'm always confident."
The promoter Kelly though, said the fight was contracted at the catch weight, though he didn't say if it had been altered recently. Branch's side told MMA Fighting that there was "no problem" regarding the weight.
Despite their grace in handling the situation, it's clear there is more to the story than they're letting on.
Johnson, as most fans are aware, has had a history of weight issues. His most recent came at UFC 142, when he was supposed to be making his middleweight debut but instead came in at 197 pounds. He eventually was submitted by Vitor Belfort and released by the UFC. Overall, he missed weight three times in the UFC.
Johnson is 10-4 overall. Branch, also a UFC veteran, is 10-2 with two straight wins since parting ways with the promotion.
Titan Fighting 22 takes place at Memorial Hall in Kansas City and airs on HDNet.
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