ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Just two years ago Anthony Johnson was competing at 170 pounds. But Saturday night at Revel Resort & Casino he ventured into the heavyweight division for the first time.
If that wasn't enough, Johnson stepped into the cage against former UFC heavyweight titleholder Andrei Arlovski during the main event at World Series of Fighting 2.
If size mattered, and by all accounts it should have, an Arlovski victory was expected to come easily. But Johnson was the faster and his strikes did the most damage in the fight. As a result, Johnson pulled off the biggest upset of his career by registering a unanimous decision over Arlovski.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28. ESPN.com also had Johnson winning 29-28.
Before the bout, Johnson (15-4) vowed that he would return to light heavyweight. He did not change his mind after the win.
"I tried not to get so hard," Johnson said. "The man hits like a ton of bricks.
"These guys like Andrei Arlovski are too big for Anthony Johnson."
As impressive as Johnson was in victory, Arlovski (19-10) was disappointing in defeat. He failed to take advantage of his smaller opponent.
Known for his questionable chin, Arlovski was nearly knocked out by Johnson in the final seconds of the opening round. He was saved by the horn, but the knockdown served to further increase Johnson's confidence.
In the third round, Johnson's attack slowed as he attempted repeatedly to get Arlovski to the ground. But the larger Arlovski successfully stuffed each attempt.
Johnson said the change in strategy was due to a hand injury he suffered in the second round.
Moraes maintains momentum, KO's Nam in first
Moraes was the faster fighter -- landing right-left combinations, followed by kicks to the leg of Nam. His speed would prove too much for Nam to handle.
Just before the 3-minute mark, Moraes connected with a kick to the head that dropped Nam. Seeing that his opponent was in trouble, Moraes (10-4) went for the finish -- landing a hard right hand that forced referee Keith Peterson to jump in at 2:55 of the opening round.
"My game plan was mix it up -- boxing, kicks, takedowns, everything," Moraes said. "This is mixed martial arts. I was ready for the war.
"I was ready to fight for three rounds. Maybe that's why I got the knockout because I was ready to go the full 15 minutes."
The win follows a split decision Moraes earned over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres in November at WSOF 1.
Nam garnered lots of attention in August when he knocked out Bellator 135-pound champion Eduardo Dantas at Shooto Brazil 33.
The loss to Moraes drops Nam to 12-5. His win streak ends at four.
Branch batters Filho en route to lopsided victory
Six years ago, the mention of Paulo Filho sent shivers down the spines of mixed martial artists -- not anymore.
The ex-WEC middleweight champion is just a shell of his former self, which was evident against David Branch, who dominated Filho standing and on the ground en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
The judges scored the fight 30-26, 30-37 and 30-27. ESPN.com had it 30-27 for Branch, who improves to 12-3.
"I didn't know what to expect," Branch said. "But I know that I trained hard for this fight. I have so much respect for this guy. He was one of my idols growing up.
"I take my openings. I train with the best -- the Gracie family. I was ready for this [fight].
Branch started the fight landing two hard left jabs to the chin that immediately put Filho on the defensive. Branch quickly took advantage of Filho's reluctance to mount an attack and took him to the ground, where he landed hard punches and elbows.
That scenario would repeat itself throughout the three-round fight. During brief standup action, Branch would deliver a hard right hand, a kick to the body or knee to the chin. But he would waste little time putting Filho on his back again.
Minutes into the second round, the fight was so predictable that many in the crowd began booing whenever Branch took Filho to the ground.
Filho falls to 23-5-2.
Burkman right hands lead to first-round KO of Simpson
Welterweight Josh Burkman seems to have found a home in WSOF.
A Burkman right in the first minute of the fight drew blood from Simpson's mouth. Another right hand dropped Simpson briefly, but the veteran recovered quickly. But there were only so many more right hands Simpson could absorb.
Moments later, another Burkman right stung Simpson. This time, however, Burkman added a knee that would send Simpson to the canvas. One more right hand from Burkman (25-9) as Simpson was falling to the canvas forced referee Dan Miragliotta to wave the bout off at 3:04.
Burkman is expected to face former UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch next.
"About a week ago I thought I was out of this fight due to injuries," Burkman said. "I had a great training camp.
"I'm going to talk to [WSOF brass] about [fighting Fitch], but I think I've earned my title shot."
Simpson falls to 12-5.
Aggressive Gaethje stops Cavalcante in first round
Stepping into the cage for just the eighth time professionally to face a seasoned veteran like Gesias Cavacante, it would be understandable if Justin Gaethje showed some hesitancy at the start of their lightweight bout.
But thus far in his brief career Gaethje has demonstrated a willingness to push the action. And against Cavalcante that's exactly what he did.
Gaethje pressured Cavalcante from the opening horn, throwing hard right hands and elbows. He even mixed in a few kicks that found their marks.
But it was a right elbow that opened a large cut above Cavalcante's right eye, forcing the cageside physician to end the bout at 2:27 of the first round.
"That's always the game plan -- come forward and never take a step back," Gaethje said after improving to 8-0.
Cavalcante was hoping to make it two wins in a row with World Series of Fighting. Though admitting the cut was deep, Cavalcante (16-7) expressed disappointment in the stoppage.
"The cut was on the head and above the eye," Cavalcante said. "It was in a dangerous place, but I always come to fight."