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Anthony Johnson Ready for His Biggest Fight at UFC 106

Most UFC fighters take a few months off between fights. Anthony Johnson is happy to be getting just four weeks.

Johnson, who knocked out Yoshiyuki Yoshida in just 41 seconds at UFC 104, will be back on Saturday night at UFC 106, just four weeks later, taking on Josh Koscheck in a fight Johnson calls the biggest of his career. In an interview with FanHouse, Johnson said he's ready to step up and face his biggest challenge yet -- and he's ready to make weight, something he didn't do before fighting Yoshida.

The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: What kind of fight are you expecting from Josh Koscheck?
Anthony Johnson: One for the record books. We have two different styles and I think that will make a great fight. It's two great fighters -- well, I can't really call myself a great fighter yet. I'm a good fighter but I plan to show I'm becoming a great fighter. It's the biggest test of my career and it's going to be a really big opportunity for me to earn respect in this sport.

This is a very quick turnaround for you -- do you like fighting on only four weeks' rest from your last fight?
Yeah, I'm feeling fine, I'm in great shape and my weight is down. I know everyone is worried about my weight -- and I can understand why -- but I'm ready to go.

You came in at 176 for the Yoshida fight, a fight that you agreed to fight at 170. How much do you weigh right now?
I weigh 187.

Are you completely confident that you can make weight this time?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

So what happened? Why did you tip the scales at 176?
Well, I had a knee injury, and I got lazy and stopped working out for a while, and I put on some weight that kind of sneaked up on me -- I wasn't paying close enough attention to my body. People started telling me I was getting big and stuff and I didn't think much of it, but then I stepped on the scale and I was like, "Damn, 220!" I started dieting but I guess I was too late. When I was injured I should have been more careful with my diet. That was my fault. There's no one else to blame but me.

Do you think Yoshida should be upset with you for not coming in at the agreed-upon weight?
Well, it was just six pounds. I'd be willing to fight someone six pounds heavier than me. I'm not saying it's nothing -- when I'm in the weight room, sometimes I'll lift a weight, and then I'll put two-and-a-half-pound weights on each side and I can't lift it, so I know five pounds can make a difference. I'm not saying it's nothing but I don't think it's a huge difference either.

You knocked Yoshida out in spectacular fashion, but you didn't win the Knockout of the Night bonus. Was that the UFC punishing you for coming in over weight?
No, it wasn't the UFC punishing me, it's just the rules: If you don't make weight you can't win the bonus. That's in the rules. I was six pounds over and I would've gotten $60,000 if I would have made weight, so that's $10,000 a pound. You live and you learn, though. I'm not tripping off it. I just think life is about second chances, and I'm glad the UFC gave me an opportunity to fight again.

You also came in overweight when you lost to Rich Clementi at UFC 76 two years ago. Do you think you need to move up to middleweight?

Rich Clementi was a different story: I was fighting that fight on a week's notice. I called someone at the UFC to ask about getting tickets to that fight and they called me back and asked me to fight on the card. People who complain that I missed weight against Rich Clementi have no idea -- I took that fight when I wasn't even preparing for a fight. I was out of shape and overweight but I took the fight on short notice. I think I would've beaten Rich if I had had time to get into shape.

Let's get back to your upcoming fight with Koscheck. I think a lot of people would look at this match-up and say you're more of a striker and he's more of a wrestler. Is it really that simple?
No, I don't think so, I know he's a good striker. He's a solid striker. He throws an overhand right, and he has a nice left jab. Koscheck really knows how to mix it up. And at the same time, a lot of people haven't seen my wrestling, but if I need to use my wrestling people are going to be surprised how well I can match up with him. It's going to be a really good fight.

How much tape of Koscheck have you watched to get ready?
A lot. I'm always watching tape, looking for my opponents' weaknesses and also at their strengths. I've watched him a lot, developed a game plan, and I think I'm well prepared for him.

If you beat Koscheck, where do you think you are in the welterweight division? Close to a title shot?
I don't know and I don't care. I think right now most people think he's in the top 10 and I'm not, but if I beat him, I can change that. But I'm not worried about my rankings, I just like to fight. Rankings are just what people think.

Who have you been training with to get ready for this fight?
I've got a great team, starting with Cung Le. My team pushes me every day and gives me good looks. Cung is such a good fighter that when you work with him, you learn to watch out for all sorts of things you'd never see anywhere else.

Cung Le's style is certainly unique. What is it about him that makes his style special?
It's just his san shou style, that's a different style than the usual mixed martial arts style of fighting. You don't usually see side kicks. You don't see front push kicks. You don't see spinning back kicks. He does things that you don't usually see in MMA. Cung is a master inventor. He's awesome. He's amazing. We have a lot of young guys in our gym, guys who are 19, 20, 21 years old, and they're going to be great because Cung is such a good teacher.

How did you get into MMA?
I was a college wrestler (at Lassen College) and my neighbor kept trying to get me to come to his martial arts gym. I kept blowing him off, but finally a friend convinced me to go once, and if I didn't like it I'd just say that was it. But I went once and I loved it as soon as I tried it. I knew it was something I wanted to do, and around that time I started watching The Ultimate Fighter. I was motivated to do it because I wanted to make it to the UFC. It wasn't easy -- I was barely getting by, I had to sleep on people's couches -- but I knew I wanted to do it.

What kind of fight can fans expect to see from you on Saturday?
I think they're going to see an explosive, exciting fight, because that's the way I approach it. I just go out there and do my thing. Don't close your eyes because you never know what could happen.

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