Mixed martial arts fans probably haven’t heard the name Anthony Johnson in a while. The highly respected fighter last fought in 2017, with a loss to Daniel Cormier, and Rumble announcing his immediate retirement from the sport in the ring after the bout.
Rumble’s retirement came as a surprise to most fans and experts, with most people being able to bet on him having a few years left in the tank. He had a record of 22-6, with only two losses in his last 10 fights. He was also ranked the number 1 fighter in the world at the time.
Age may have played a role in the decision, but all of that is now in the past considering he has said he wants to be back in the octagon before the end of the year, something that Dana White is trying to make possible as well.
Johnson had made it clear that at the time of his retirement he was finished with the sport completely. He spoke up having no drive or passion to train, box, wrestle, anything, and that he was simply just over it.
But by the looks of things, the couple of years that have passed have allowed him to regain focus and perspective, give his mind and body time to properly recover, and he has clearly decided that he needs to be back in the ring.
Initially, Rumble wanted to return in late 2019 in the Heavyweight division, having bulked up to a massive 280 pounds at the time of his retirement. In the subsequent months, he has cut down all the way to 205, and is planning on fighting between two weight classes.
As mentioned above, Rumble was planning on returning to the ring this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still putting a stop on almost all sporting events across the globe, meaning his comeback will probably only be next year.
Rumble also needs to register and enter himself into the USADA pool to undergo at least 6 months of drug testing before he can even step foot into a professional ring again. This, obviously, will be delayed due to the pandemic.
When asked about his return, Rumble has actually put it down to one fight he watched back in August 2019. He spoke about seeing Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic fight again, and how seeing two of the best go at it lit a fire in him to show the world that he still had what it took.
Up until that point, he hadn’t even watched many fights since his retirement, and he was so sure that he was finished with the sport that nothing would change his mind, until that one fight in Anaheim.
What excites fans the most about the prospect of Johnson’s return, is the potential for a matchup between himself and Jon “Bones” Jones. Many experts believe Johnson is the man that can end Jones’s reign at 205.
The two were scheduled to fight in 2015, but the match was changed after Jones was stripped of his title after being arrested. Johnson would take on, and subsequently lose to, Daniel Cormier instead.
Johnson has even said he wants Jones, he has made it clear that a title match is the end goal, but he is fully aware that he won’t just be handed one, especially after a 3 year hiatus. Step in, Dana White.
It is almost confirmed that Johnson will be returning, what isn’t known is who the deadly finished will be fighting on his return. Dana White has recently said that he will line up a Top 10 fighter to take on Johnson on his return.
Johnson has also said that he has no preference when it comes to title shots. He acknowledges he will need to work and be patient for a shot, but he has also said that he doesn’t mind going against Jones for the light-heavyweight title, or the winner between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic trilogy at heavyweight.
That fight is also due to take place near the end of the year, so it could easily show us who Rumble will be taking on. As mentioned above, Jones has been in incredible form, and Rumble knows he’s most likely still going to hold the title when his shot comes calling.
Many have asked if the Johnson that is returning, is still the knockout monster of old, or has the time out the ring taken that killer instinct out of him. He has made it clear that if he wants to knock you out, there isn’t anything that’s going to stop him.
Either way you look at it, the return of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is nothing but exciting and thrilling. A known knock-out machine returning to take on some of the best in the business is clearly a very exciting prospect.
All we can do now is just wait, wait for the Corona pandemic to pass, wait for Johnson to do his necessary drug screening, but before long, Rumble will be stepping into the ring again, and other fighters should be scared, and if they aren’t, they don’t know what’s coming.