Written by Jon Paterson @JonTPaterson
This Saturday, Jimi Manuwa and Anthony Johnson will collide in a light-heavyweight showdown as part of UFC 191. The event takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and includes a flyweight title fight between reigning champ Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson.
After losing to Daniel Cormier for the vacant UFC light-heavyweight strap, Anthony Johnson is still the #1 ranked athlete in the division. As such, the ranked #7 Jimi Manuwa will be taking a huge step forward in competition this weekend. To this end, ‘Rumble’ is currently sitting as a -550 favorite, with Manuwa to be found anywhere between +375 and +500 at various sportsbooks.
Anthony Johnson is an incredibly talented athlete who infamous for his initial career start in the UFC welterweight division. Johnson missed weight on numerous occasions at the 170 lb. limit, and following a first-round submission loss to Vitor Belfort, the impressive prospect was cut from the organization. Between 2012 and 2013, an impressive string of TKO and KO victories persuaded the UFC to give Johnson another chance, and in 2014 ‘Rumble’ was brought back into the fold as a UFC light-heavyweight.
On the other side of the octagon sits Jimi Manuwa, a 15-1 professional with all but two wins coming by TKO/KO. Manuwa most recently bested Jan Blachowicz by way of unanimous decision victory in April of this year. Prior to that, Manuwa had only fought once in 2014 – a fairly lopsided TKO loss at the hands of Alexander Gustafsson. Manuwa looked somewhat flat in his bout with Blachowicz, albeit he illustrated a developing grappling defense. Given these last two performances, it is understandable why the oddsmakers place ‘Poster Boy’ as a huge underdog. It remains to be seen if the developing abilities of Manuwa is enough to overcome the arsenal presented by Johnson.
Anthony Johnson is an extremely versatile and aggressive mixed martial artist; he has a strong grappling base as an American collegiate wrestler and builds upon that foundation with heavy-hitting hands. However, during his match with Daniel Cormier some chinks in the armor of Johnson had been clearly identified. Cormier implemented a brilliant strategy to take the energy out of Johnson, incorporating smothering takedowns and heavy elbows from top position. This led the way for an eventual third round rear-naked choke loss.
In my opinion, this is the crux that will determine the outcome of the fight; does Manuwa have the skill-set required to nullify the offense of Johnson? All questions will be answered on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Fight Pass prelims start at 7PM EST with the main card PPV beginning at 10PM.