UFC light-heavyweight Anthony Johnson has truly put the demons of his past behind him; ‘Rumble’ scored a big decision win over Phil Davis at UFC 172, then absolutely steam rolled Anotnio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC on FOX 12. It seems the Blackzilians product has matured greatky during his time away, and has racked up an eight-fight win streak since his UFC 142 loss to Vitor Belfort.
Now linked to a potential brawl against top contender Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden, ‘Rumble’ spoke with UFC.com about who he would like to fight next:
“Hopefully I’ll be able to fight in late October or something like that if there are any fights open,” Johnson said. “I was hoping I could fight Ryan Bader in late October and fight Gus on the Jon Jones card. That’s my idea. People finally want me to start calling people out, you know what I mean? I never did that before. But I’ve always wanted to fight Ryan Bader because I’ve always thought he was a tough fighter.”
Ryan Bader was recently victorious over highly-hyped Ovince St-Preux at UFC Fight Night 47, extending his win streak to three casting away much doubt about his legitimacy. A fight with Bader could certainly be an interesting one for the rankings, although as number five, Johnson may want to keep his attention on ‘The Mauler’, as he continues:
“It will be a good fight. Gus is taller than me, but I think we have the same amount of length of reach. So it’ll be interesting,” Johnson said. “Gus likes to move a lot and I like to stalk people and see what they have to offer. It will be a hell of fight. I definitely want to give the fans what they want to see.”
The Swedish star was unfortunate to be bumped from his rematch against the reigning champion Jon Jones, as a knee injury meant that Daniel Cormier was drafted in as a replacement for Gus. Talking of “DC” and “Bones”, “Rumble” says that their off-air ‘Hot Mic’ snippet was an unfortunate turn of events:
“(Those) two going at it, supposedly off camera, that was pretty crazy. I wish some of things that were said weren’t said, but hey, they’re not talking to me, so I don’t care,” Johnson said. “Jon is an awesome fighter, nobody can say he isn’t. He is amazing. As a person, I don’t know Jon, you know what I mean? I don’t know him personally, and I don’t care to know him or anything like that. I just know he is an athlete. I respect his abilities. He is doing things that other people can’t do.”
If Johnson stays on this path, then a title fight in the next year is a no-brainer. A win over either Gustafsson or “Darth” would arguably be the tipping point for the powerful Blackzilians fighter. Having dominated during his two-year stint outside the UFC, and now looking like a beast in the promotion’s 205-pound division, how long will it be before we see Johnson headlining an event?
I’d say that a fight against the number one in the division would be more than worthy of at least a Fight Night headliner, and Johnson has already stated he is willing to make the travel to Europe. Johnson vs. Bader or Gustafsson, or perhaps both, what do you think?