The UFC signed a pair of interesting fights over the last several hours, announcing Anthony Johnson will meet Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Stefan Struve will face Matt Mitrione.
In regards to the Johnson-Nogueira contest, it seems like a step back on the surface for “Rumble.” After defeating Phil Davis, he vaulted up the UFC rankings and into the role of a contender.
By handling Davis, Johnson (17-4) showed that his wrestling is right up there with the best in the division and his striking remains his strong point. He even had little trouble making weight, coming in right at 206 pounds after several failed weigh-ins that ultimately led to his release from the UFC the first time around.
With Nogueira (21-5), he’ll be facing someone on a two-fight win streak that includes a decision over Rashad Evans. Evans, a former UFC champion, is a close friend and training partner with Johnson at the Blackzilians gym in Florida, so maybe he views this as a chance to avenge his friend.
But, the Brazilian has been away from the Octagon since that early 2013 win over “Suga.” Injuries have forced him to cancel a handful of fights, and his recognition-level isn’t enough to give Johnson that extra hurdle to surpass the likes of Daniel Cormier in terms of competing for the belt.
In regards to Struve-Mitrione, this will also serve as a return fight, as Struve has been sidelined due to a heart ailment. “The Skyscraper” promised he would return, and despite hearing from many that his career was over, he’ll have a chance to get right back into the groove vs. Mitrione.
These two are on opposite ends of the spectrum, as Struve (25-6) is younger than Mitrione (7-3), but has competed in three times as many fights. Struve holds wins over Stipe Miocic and Pat Barry during his career, and should be able to use his size to the advantage.