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UFC 104 Preview: Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

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You'd be hard pressed to find many welterweight fighters with more potential and raw ability than Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. But as we've learned time and again, raw ability is not always enough. Of all the fighters on the card, I'm thinking that Anthony Johnson has a chance to raise his stock the most with a win on Saturday. If he can win and look impressive in front of this pay-per-view audience, I think that Anthony has a chance to really build some momentum. People forget that Johnson, a Georgia native now fighting out of California, is still relatively new to the game. But in recent wins over Kevin Burns and Luigi Fioravanti this 25-year-old has shown why some observers have tabbed him as a potential future champion. It's nothing short of amazing to me that Anthony even makes the welterweight limit. At 6'2" the guy has a huge frame and, as Kevin Iole reported last week, began training camp for this fight at 220 pounds. Johnson has a professional record of 7-2 with five wins coming by way of knockout and no wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced so far in his career is 69.8%.

Yoshiyuki "Zenko" Yoshida arrived in the UFC last year with a reputation as a solid technical fighter. He made short work of War Machine in his debut, submitting the TUF veteran in under a minute. Yoshida was then knocked out in the first round of his bout with Josh Koscheck here in North Carolina at the Fight Night for the Troops event last year. Will this 35-year-old fighter be able to successfully bounce back from that loss? I think that we'll see an improved Yoshida in this matchup. I expect him to use movement to try and stifle Johnson's attack, picking his spots here and there to try to either clinch or shoot for a takedown. Yoshida has a professional record of 11-3 with six wins coming by way of knockout and three wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced so far in his career is 74.2%.

I don't expect a quick exit from Yoshida at all, but I do think that Johnson's stand up skills will give him problems. Anthony has been vulnerable to submissions in the past, as evidenced by his loss to Rich Clementi earlier in his career. But just as I think that Yoshida will be an improved fighter coming off of his last loss, I know that Johnson has improved tremendously as a fighter since his submission loss to Rich. I see Anthony racking up points during the standup exchanges before finally closing the show. My prediction: Anthony Johnson by TKO in the 2nd.