Nobody this year has taken advantage of a golden opportunity quite like Charlie Brenneman did. When Brenneman was chosen to replace Nate Marquardt on extremely short notice against Rick Story, I wrote that Brenneman wasn’t ready for the fight.
Instead, Brenneman out-wrestled Story en route to a clear unanimous decision victory. Now, Brenneman has been established as a welterweight to watch, especially with a 14-2 record with a rAP of 39.75. Two strong wins are probably all Brenneman needs to break into the elite tier of welterweights according to SILVA.
Next up for Brenneman will be a very difficult opponent in Anthony Johnson. Like Brenneman, Johnson is a wrestler, but Johnson is well known for being the biggest, strongest welterweight in the division. It doesn’t mean that Johnson can’t be taken down – Josh Koscheck showed otherwise – but whether or not Brenneman has what it takes is an open question.
And if Brenneman can’t take Johnson to the ground, he could be in big trouble. The thing about Johnson having a ton of power is that that power translates to the striking game as well as the wrestling game. Just ask Yoshiyuki Yoshida, who was knocked out in 41 seconds, or Tommy Speer, who was knocked out in 51 seconds, or Chad Reiner, who was knocked out in 13 seconds.
I’m actually really glad to see Johnson fighting an opponent like Charlie Brenneman, because pretty much all of Johnson’s wins have been against below-average UFC opponents. This includes Dan Hardy, who Johnson beat thoroughly in his last fight, and other names like Luigi Fioravanti and Kevin Burns. If Johnson can beat Brenneman, it will represent his best win and a potential opportunity to move into title contention in the UFC.
And while Brenneman has the best win on paper with his upset victory against Story, it’s hard to see this being a good match for him. Brenneman is a fighter who largely relies on takedowns and ground control. Historically, the way to beat Johnson is to submit him, but Brenneman only has two career submission wins. One was by strikes, and the other was an arm-triangle choke against an opponent named Chris Thomas. The Victory Score for that win: a mere 43.76. Brenneman just isn’t particularly strong in the one area that Johnson is obviously weak.
SILVA PREDICTION: CHARLIE BRENNEMAN (36.51) OVER ANTHONY JOHNSON (29.97)
I have to go against SILVA for this one. I feel that this is a bad match-up for Charlie Brenneman: his strengths just so happen to be Anthony Johnson’s strengths, and I think Johnson has a much higher probability of ending the fight by KO. Another reason: check out Fight Metric’s report on Brenneman’s fight against Rick Story. It’s not exactly the kind of thing that inspires confidence that Brenneman is really a great welterweight fighter. Maybe I’m doubting Brenneman too much; after all, I did pick against him last time as well. But besides these fighters’ respective SILVA scores, everything I see suggests that Johnson is the man to beat here.