Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Anthony Johnson started his post-UFC career with a win.
While he didn't produce another knockout for his personal highlight reel, he earned a victory over the solid veteran Dave Branch at Titan Fighting 22, taking the decision by a trio of 30-27 scores.
Afterward, Johnson said he may decide to move up to light-heavyweight in his next bout
The fight was contested at a 195-pound catch weight.
During the broadcast, HD Net Fights lead commentator Michael Schiavello confirmed Johnson's camp asked for a weight switch earlier this week after acknowledging he couldn't make the middleweight maximum. He also noted that Branch received "more than 20 percent" of Johnson's purse for agreeing to the late change.
"I was 10 pounds away and my body shut down," Johnson finally admitted to Pat Miletich after previously denying the change. His comments echoed the incident at UFC 142 that cost him his job in the UFC when he missed weight in a match against Vitor Belfort.
Johnson never came close to finishing the bout, but clearly landed the more significant strikes over the course of the 15-minute encounter.
Branch spent most of the first round circling around the cage with Johnson stalking him, but Johnson didn't expend a lot of energy trying to initiate the action.
The second started off slow as well, with action stalling against the cage. Little more than halfway through, Johnson took Branch down. He was able to land occasionally, but it was Branch who threatened with a late triangle choke that he appeared to be close to tightening just as the round ran out.
Johnson had his best moment in the third, landing a head kick that stunned Branch, who later pulled guard, looking for the submission from the bottom. Johnson was conservative from the top, choosing to stifle Branch, forcing the referee to stand them up within a minute.
He spent the remainder of the round imploring Branch (10-3) to exchange with him, but wasn't able to produce a brawl. Still, it was enough for the victory as he improved to 11-4.
"It was frustrating but you find people like that in training, too," he said. "This is a fight. This is what we get paid for. I wasn't too thrilled with the circling around, running away if that's what you want to call it."
In the Titan Fighting 22 co-main event, LC Davis defeated Bill Kamery via TKO at 2:59 of round two.
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