World MMA Heavyweight Scouting Report: #3 – Tony Johnson Jr.

Tony Johnson's story is similar to that of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. A child was involved, dreams were put on the back…

By: Leland Roling | 12 years ago
World MMA Heavyweight Scouting Report: #3 – Tony Johnson Jr.
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Tony Johnson’s story is similar to that of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. A child was involved, dreams were put on the back burner, and duties fulfilled to be a father. Before his days of changing diapers and earning income for his family, Johnson was considered by some to be one of the best heavyweight wrestlers in the country. If that wasn’t enough, Johnson was also considered a potential talent as a fullback in football. At 320 lbs., Johnson supposedly ran a 4.7, 40 yard dash, the same time that our #6 ranked prospect, Jared Rosholt, was clocked, only 40 lbs. heavier. The 25-year-old now aims to produce the same success in mixed martial arts, amassing a 5-1 record in six professional bouts since late 2008.

Offensive Skills: Johnson’s skill-set features a credible wrestling game that is amplified by his enormous size and speed. Once considered one of the best wrestlers in the country in high school, Johnson has brought those skills to the cage, working from the feet to the ground with smooth transitions and effortless takedowns. His top control game needs some work, and his boxing is still a work in progress as he continues to move up the ranks. As apparent in most heavyweights, Johnson has proven knockout power on the feet, and he’s becoming more versatile on the ground in the submission game.

Defensive Skills: Obviously, Johnson’s wrestling prowess is a way in which he can avoid the unpredictable nature of the stand-up game. In his past performances, Johnson has only struck with his opponents long enough to fool them into believing he’d like to go toe-to-toe. Smartly, Johnson takes his opponents down and utilizes his size, avoiding the dangers of the feet.

Progression: Johnson’s progression is somewhat of a concern. Despite having six fights under his belt as a professional, the supplemental skills he needs to transform his ground game into something more threatening haven’t developed. His lacking submission game allows opponents to hang around longer than they should. Against better competition, Johnson will need to finish in order to succeed at the higher levels.

Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight
#1 – Eduardo Dantas
#2 – Farkhad Sharipov
#3 – Jimmie Rivera
#4 – Yusup Saadulaev
#5 – John Lineker
#6 – Adrian Wooley
#7 – Rodrigo Lima
#8 – Tommy Vargas
#9 – Mike Easton
#10 – Denis Puric
#1 – Antonio Carvalho
#2 – Taiki Tsuchiya
#3 – Mark Adams
#4 – Alan Omer
#5 – Koichiro Matsumoto
#6 – Tom Niinimaki
#7 – Marcos Vinicius
#8 – Matt Fiordirosa
#9 – Isaac DeJesus
#10 – Michel Gagnon
#1 – Thiago Michel
#2 – Ricardo Tirloni
#3 – Magno Almeida
#4 – Ui Cheol Nam
#5 – Henrique Mello
#6 – Reza Madadi
#7 – Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 – Ole Laursen
#9 – Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 – Al Iaquinta
Welterweight Middleweight Light Heavyweight Heavyweight
#1 – Yuri Villefort
#2 – Alex Garcia
#3 – Erick Silva
#4 – Douglas Lima
#5 – Luis “Sapo” Santos
#6 – Jesse Juarez
#7 – Gunnar Nelson
#8 – Quinn Mulhern
#9 – Alberto Mina
#10 – Joe Ray
#1 – Papy Abedi
#2 – Chris Weidman
#3 – Vitor Vianna
#4 – Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 – Bruno Santos
#6 – Costantinos Philippou
#7 – Jordan Smith
#8 – Uriah Hall
#9 – Victor O’Donnell
#10 – Assan Njie
#1 – Marcos Pezao
#2 – Gian Villante
#3 – Jimi Manuwa
#4 – Glover Teixeira
#5 – Jan Blachowicz
#6 – Yoel Romero
#7 – Ryan Jimmo
#8 – Nik Fekete
#9 – Marcus Vanttinen
#10 – Ronny Markes
#3 – Tony Johnson Jr.
#4 – Gerald Turek
#5 – Stipe Miocic
#6 – Jared Rosholt
#7 – Vitaly Minakov
#8 – Konstantin Gluhov
#9 – Nick Gaston
#10 – Mark Potter

Environment: Johnson was affiliated with American Top Team for most of his career. He may still train there from time to time, but I’ve read a number of interviews suggesting he’s been working out at Ghost Wolf Gym in Miami, Florida as well. I haven’t been able to find any information on the gym.

UPDATE: According to Tony’s manager, he is training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Potential: Johnson has the wrestling background, enormous size, and undeniable athletic talent to go far in this sport. His skills on the ground aren’t at a point in which he’s the most threatening heavyweight on our countdown, but we all know how effective wrestling can be in maintaining a winning record while all of the other skills improve in the gym. Hopefully, Johnson moves along that path instead of relying solely on his wrestling to win fights. As he found out against Daniel Cormier, he isn’t the best wrestler in the division. He’ll need other skills to succeed at the highest levels.

It was reported that the Johnson signed with Bellator in February, but he has yet to be scheduled to fight for the promotion. Hopefully, that changes very soon.

UPDATE: According to Tony’s manager, he is scheduled to fight on April 16th under the Bellator banner in Yuma, Arizona. He will turn around and fight on June 25th in Miami, Florida.


Tony Johnson Jr. vs. Daniel Cormier

Tony Johnson Jr. vs. Boban Simic
Tony Johnson Jr. vs. Tony Lopez

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Leland Roling
Leland Roling

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