09 Apr, 2020

Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson reveals the fight that inspired his UFC return

For fight fans searching for something to look forward to once the coronavirus pandemic has eased, Anthony Johnson’s return to UFC action might just fit the bill.

The explosive former light heavyweight contender said during a recent Dominance MMA media day, where he said he was open to coming back at either light heavyweight or heavyweight – and even suggested he could compete in both.

“I feel good. I’m healthy, aside from the typical injuries, bruises and stuff like that,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “I’m 230, 235 (pounds), somewhere around that, so I don’t mind going down to light heavy or just staying at heavy. I’ll fight in both weight classes.

“Everything’s open. I feel good. I’ll probably go down to light heavyweight, but I’m not against staying up and fighting at heavyweight. Everybody in both weight classes are very talented, so I’m looking forward to the challenges that I’ve got coming.”

Up until recently, it looked like “Rumble” had completely moved on from his MMA career, but now all that has changed, with Johnson making the decision to return.

“No excuses, I was really done. I wanted nothing more to do with MMA,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to work on grappling anymore, I didn’t want to do any wrestling, I got tired of punching and kicking and all that stuff. I was really checked out. I would say this: I probably wasn’t as mature back then, either. I’ve had time to reflect on a lot of things and grow as a person.

“I don’t mind getting on the ground now and rolling around. Obviously I did a grappling match. I did a sumo match, so obviously rolling around and doing all that weird stuff is not out of the norm now.”

The reason for his change of heart was one of the biggest fights in recent years, which reminded him of his own fighting talents and reignited the competitive spark that eventually led to his decision.

“(It was) DC and Stipe 2 (at UFC 241),” he said. “I was actually watching them fight, saw them fight, and that was actually probably the third or fourth fight I’d watched since I retired. When I said I was done with MMA I was really done with MMA. At least, mentally I felt like I was done. I saw them fight, saw them go at it. They were the two best guys at that time. They displayed so much skill and talent. Everybody else probably saw a normal fight where they weren’t doing that much, but I saw skill, talent, the timing, the setups. Everything was at such a high level. It just made me say, ‘You know what, I can still do that, so I’m going to go out there and give it a shot.’”

Now, with “Rumble” eyeing a return, his aim isn’t just to compete. It’s to continue his MMA journey all the way to a UFC title. And if that means a fight with Jon Jones, so be it.

“I want to beat whoever has the belt, (and) most likely Jon will have the belt,” Johnson said. “I should be fighting by the end of the year.”

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