Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is all geared up to make his return to the UFC after three years away.
Johnson was a force in the UFC light heavyweight division back from 2014 to 2016, tearing through the weight class with his vicious knockout power. However, in the only two title opportunities of his UFC career, “Rumble” came up just short in submission losses to Daniel Cormier. The latter defeat marked the end of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, as he retired from the sport moments after. Or so we thought. Earlier this week it was reported that the wheels were in motion for Johnson’s return to action, as he re-entered the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool.
Per Johnson’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, he is planning to return at 205 pounds despite earlier consideration of a jump up to heavyweight. Speaking at a BKFC press conference recently, Johnson explained the decision behind deciding to end his retirement. Simply put, Johnson just missed competing. “Rumble” has always been against retired fighters coming back for one more run after seeing how it has worked out for the likes of legends such as BJ Penn.
“Honestly, I missed the sport,” Johnson said (via MMA Fighting). “I missed competing. So I know at one point I was against guys coming back from retirement. You usually see them getting mopped up. B.J. Penn came back got mopped. I’ve seen everybody that came out of retirement get mopped up.”
Expanding on that point, Johnson noted that he didn’t take much damage when he was competing at light heavyweight, except for when he lost, which wasn’t often, making him very comfortable with his decision to come back.
“I just don’t want to be one of those guys to get mopped up but I still feel good,” Johnson said. “I have no injuries. While I was in the UFC, I didn’t get hit much unless I lost and that wasn’t often.”
With a return to light heavyweight, Anthony Johnson is coming back to a 205-pound weight class that is a lot more wide open than it was in 2017. Jon Jones dominated the division for the majority of Johnson’s last run at light heavyweight, before Daniel Cormier became the new face of the weight class. However, Jones has since vacated the division’s title and is planning a jump up to heavyweight.
Meanwhile, Cormier, who long ago left 205 pounds behind, is now retired. Fellow former top contenders such as Alexander Gustafsson are no longer competing at 205 pounds for the time being, leaving top ranked competitors Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz to compete for the vacant title on September 26 at UFC 253. UFC president Dana White has since said Johnson will receive a top ranked opponent for his return, so it’s possible we see “Rumble” competing for gold again a lot sooner than we think.