Anthony Johnson (13-3, 1 NC, MMA) has gone on a three fight streak in the process of reinventing himself after being cut from the UFC at the beginning of 2012. Now with a new promotion, a new weight class and a fresh start with his career, “Rumble” told MMA Fight Corner on Tuesday night that he feels like he’s in better shape than ever.
Just recently, Johnson signed on with the newest MMA promotion to hit Las Vegas, NV, the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). The organization’s president is kickboxing legend, Ray Sefo. When the WSOF debuts on November 3rd at the Planet Hollywood’s PH Live, Johnson said he’s excited to face DJ Linderman (13-3, MMA) at light heavyweight on the card.
“It’s an honor to be able to be on the first show ever for World Series of Fighting. I mean, I’m happy to be there, I have no complaints about these guys. As far as I know, most of the guys that are part of the organization that helped running it and got it started have been in a couple of fights themselves, even if it was in a ring or a cage. They know what we’re going through and what we’ve been through as fighters, so they understand the business inside the cage and boxing ring, or whatever, and outside. So, I think this is going to be around for a long time.”
Johnson will have his hands full with an opponent like Linderman who has never been finished in his MMA career. But Johnson isn’t worried about that in the least. “I go into every fight feeling confident. So I feel like I’ll be just fine in this fight too. I’ve improved myself, my standup, my wrestling, my ground. You’ll see a better fighter than you’ve seen in my previous fights that’s for sure.”
Now training with the Blackzilians fight team which features talented MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champions like Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Braulio Estima and Miguel Torres, Rumble feels he’s developing his game to a new level. He’s also gone up to fighting at 205 lbs which is where he plans to stay for now. “I feel a thousand times better. I think I’m actually reaching my full potential. I’m there a little bit, but not quite,” said Johnson.
In the UFC, Johnson fought at 170 pounds and struggled to make the cut. He also made two attempts in his career to fight at middleweight which was also difficult for him to make. But now, he’s confident the 205 pound weight class is where his new home is. “I’ve never had so much fun and smiled so much in my life after cutting weight and while cutting weight. And I never fought the way I fought now, so I’m not going anywhere.”
At UFC 142, he was to fight Vitor Belfort at middleweight for the first time, but missed the 186 pound limit and weighed-in at 197 lbs. After losing the fight, he was cut from the UFC. But that’s behind him now, Johnson explained. “Everything went wrong, that’s just how it is. Everything went wrong and that’s the past and I’m not worried about the past, I’m just worried about what I’m doing now.”
His next opponent DJ Linderman has fought at heavyweight and light heavyweight. He’s never been knocked out or submitted. Johnson can’t wait to test the new and improved fighter he is against him.
“He’s tough. I don’t doubt him at all. His style matches up great for me. I think anybody’s style actually matches up great for me, but that’s just because I believe in myself. I’m sure he believes in himself too and he has a good camp that he’s coming from. But November third, it’s going to be a tough fight for both of us. But I’m confident and sure that I’m going to have my hand raised at the end of the fight. And you know, I’m plan on going there and do what I do and if I catch him slippin it’s going to be night-night for him,” Johnson stated.
Since his departure from the UFC, Johnson’s strung together a 3-fight win streak. Johnson said that when it came down to deciding what was next for him, there were only two options for him, the UFC and WSOF. In the end, he explained he had to do what was right for him.
“I was taking one fight at a time. I wasn’t worried about any promotions. Only thing that popped up with my managers was World Series of Fighting and UFC and that was it. So after my last fight with Jake Rosholt, those were the only two organizations that popped up and my managers just thought that this would be the best choice for me, World Series of Fighting right now, and my coaches. And I’m not the type of person to really go against what my coaches and managers have to say, or want to do for me ’cause they know what’s best,” he said. “Everything worked out great, you know, I signed with the World Series of Fighting and I’m happy.”
While the biggest promotion in Fight Town USA is the UFC, the World Series of Fighting is putting out a fight card that features some up and coming fighters and some that have made their mark in the MMA world. Their card’s headlining event pits heavyweights, Devin Cole and Andre Arlovski opposite each other and features a co-main event with former WEC bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres, against Marlon Moraes.
“World Series of Fighting should be around for a long time. These guys are smart and they know what they’re doing. The best thing about it, in my opinion, they’re not trying to compete with the UFC, in my opinon,” Johnson said. “These guys are just doing their own thing and they’re not worried about nothing. They’re not trying to compete with anybody. They’re just trying to put on good fights and give fighters that…need that air time and stuff like that to get their name out there more. They’re just taking fighters like that and just want to make the sport better, besides just having one dominant promotion. They guys are going to do awesome.”
With several teammates on the November 3rd World Series of Fighting card including Torres, Tyrone Spong and Gesias “JZ” Calvacante, Johnson credited his coaches at Blackzilians for getting him to where he needs to be to peak in his career. With a new weight class and new fight promotion, Johnson is looking to move forward from any setbacks or mistakes he’s made in his career. Johnson added that nothing , including backlash for his past, will stop him along the way.
“People are going to do what they want to do. I’m just going to be me regardless, if they look past it, or if they don’t. I don’t worry about what everybody else has to say, I just worry about myself. Once you worry about what everybody else has to think and has to say, that’s when you let people get you mentally and stuff like that. Once people get to you mentally, you’re done. I don’t worry about what the world has to say. I’m going to always do me and fight to the best of my abilities and if they don’t like it, they don’t like it. They don’t have to watch. But I guarantee you if they watch, they’re going to see something great. And if they don’t watch, they’re going to kick themselves in the behind and say ‘Dang I wished I would have watched that fight cause I missed a great show’.”
So onward moves Rumble who feels he’s in the right place in life as he heads into the WSOF’s decagon. “I’m glad that everything that happened to me had happened. I don’t regret anything that had happened to me in my career. I mean, I made mistakes, but I don’t see it as regrets or anything like that. That’s just how it’s supposed to happen.”