This Saturday, March 23rd, the 2nd event for Ray Sefo‘s ‘World Series of Fighting’ takes place in Atlantic City, New Jersey with a main event in the Heavyweight division between former UFC titleholder Andrei Arlovski and UFC veteran Anthony Johnson. Both men are coming off first round wins at the inaugural WSOF event last November. Right now, with less than a week to go before the fights, the books have Johnson installed as a -180 favorite, with the comeback on Arlovski at +140.
Though Anthony Johnson has the tools with his power and wrestling to win this fight, the talented Johnson is facing a great many new factors in this match. Though only a relatively slight ‘dog at -140, Arlovski may be worth a play here. If the line widens, Arlovski is almost certainly the way to go.
Johnson famously fought in the UFC as a welterweight, and then was cut when he had trouble making weight as a middleweight. He has looked strong at Lightheavyweight in his fights since the UFC, including a 1st round win at the WSOF 1 event.
But this will be Johnson’s first fight at a high level at Heavyweight, and Arlovski is a unique heavyweight. Arlovski is tall and athletic, and provides a lot of lateral movement. He is a much more polished stand up fighter than Johnson, and that includes improved defense and protection of Andrei’s suspect chin. One of Johnson’s chances would be to tap that chin, but Arlovksi has worked on improved defense in the standup game a lot.
It will be even more difficult for Johnson if the fight extends itself. It will be interesting to see what Johnson’s reaction time and gas tank are like at Heavyweight, since he will be walking around at a natural 220 lbs or so. Arlovski will also have a good 20-30 lb weight advantage, which could see Johnson wear down late in the fight carrying the bigger man (if there is a lot of clinching it favors Arlovski standing).
The other thing that jumps out about Johnson is that at every weight class, he has lost to higher skilled guys. He lost to Rich Clementi, a rugged grinder with almost 100 fights, Josh Koscheck and Vitor Belfort. Arlovski’ boxing is certainly better than Johnson’s, and Andrei has the height and reach physical advantages, as well as an advantage of experience and being in big fights.
Overall, the smart bettor may want to take a look at Arlovski as an underdog in this WSOF 2 main event, as Johnson really has too many open questions for him to be a true favorite in this fight.