Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC
Two-time light heavyweight title hopeful Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson has outlined his intentions to return to active competition with the UFC next April, ending an almost three year hiatus from the sport. The 35-year-old last featured opposite Daniel Cormier in his second title tilt back in 2017, where he suffered a third round rear-naked choke loss, and during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, surprisingly announced his retirement with immediate effect.
Appearing at a Dominance MMA press event yesterday, the Georgia native told Marc Raimondi of ESPN, of the timeframe we can expect for a return; @marc_raimondi: Anthony Johnson says at a Dominance MMA media day that he’s targeting a UFC return in April. Rumble Johnson says he’s not yet returned to the USADA drug-testing pool. Not sure when he’ll do that. “I’m just training.” He said the heaviest he got was 276 pounds when he wasn’t training during retirement.
The knockout artist has also in the past confirmed how he will be moving up a division to heavyweight, quite incredible considering just seven years ago, ‘Rumble’ was still competing in the UFC’s welterweight ranks. Before his loss to Cormier at UFC 210, Johnson had steamed through three top contenders at 205 pounds, in the form of Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and a brutal thirteen second knockout of Brazil’s Glover Teixeira.
In terms of welcoming parties upon return, ‘Rumble’ has flirted with the idea of meeting fellow finisher Francis Ngannou as well as the decorated Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos, who clash with Walt Harris and Alexander Volkov respectively in the coming weeks.