Anthony Johnson believes Bellator fighters can compete with the best of the UFC.

Johnson is set to make his Bellator debut when he takes on fellow recent signing Yoel Romero in the opening round of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix on April 16.

Many observers were initially surprised that “Rumble” — a former two-time UFC title challenger — made the move to Bellator. However, Johnson is excited to start a new chapter.

“Signing with Bellator it was just a new beginning for me,” Johnson said in a recent interview (via MMA Fighting). “I had a lot of fun in UFC, I give all of my credit for the most part to the UFC because the world wouldn’t know who Rumble Johnson was or is if it wasn’t for UFC. So I give all of them credit.

“I wish we all could be getting them fat checks like the NFL players and the NBA players, but it is what it is, I’m a always preach that.”

Johnson and Romero aren’t the only new additions to Bellator.

Fellow UFC alumni Corey Anderson and Cat Zingano have already enjoyed successful Bellator debuts while the likes of Brett Johns and Rustam Khabilov will make their debuts later this year

And with the depth at light heavyweight — which many believe is superior to the UFC’s 205-pound division — Johnson believes Bellator has fighters that can easily compete with the UFC’s elite.

The best example? Michael Chandler.

“I’m just ready to go and fight,” Johnson stated. “I look forward to the competition that’s out there. I think we can compete with the UFC with what we have. A lot of people think that just because the Bellator promotion isn’t what the UFC promotion is that the fighters aren’t the same calibre, and there’s always levels to everything. Every business, every promotion. But Bellator is no joke.

“Look at my guy, my teammate Michael Chandler went over there and destroyed Dan Hooker. Smoked him. But I knew that was coming. I’m like, y’all don’t realize how dangerous Michael Chandler is. And even though he came from a smaller promotion, he’s still an elite fighter. He wasn’t there being the champ and fighting the best of the best for no reason. He went to war with Eddie Alvarez and to me, Eddie Alvarez is for sure the greatest fighter ever in my opinion because he’s been to every organization and won the title. People don’t give that man credit.

“I also see that fans are now starting to understand that you don’t have to be just a UFC fighter to be successful and be able to feed your family and be something. So don’t be afraid to go outside of the box if there’s other things out there you want to be able to do in other promotions, go for it. Try it out. And I think Bellator for me was the right move.”

Do you agree with Johnson?

Experienced freelance sports writer covering mixed martial arts (MMA) extensively for the last few years. Likes a good body shot.