“Rumble” Thinks He Would’ve Knocked Out Jon Jones At UFC 214

Anthony Johnson

Following an over two-year period littered with fight cancellations due to various drug-related issues, all-time great UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones finally won back the title he never lost by knocking out archrival Daniel Cormier in the main event of Saturday night’s (July 29, 2017) UFC 214 from Anaheim, Calif.

Since then, “Bones” has called out former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar for an upcoming super fight, and the prospect of a rematch with No. 2-ranked Alexander Gustafsson still hangs over Jones’ head after their close, even controversial UFC 165 affair.

But one huge fight that not many people are talking about – at least yet – is Jones’ previously scheduled match-up with feared knockout artist Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, who was set to meet “Bones” at May 2015’s UFC 187 before Jones’ hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque forced the UFC to remove him from the fight. Cormier, who had just lost to Jones for the first time at UFC 182 that January, stepped in to submit “Rumble” and win the belt, and “DC” repeated that feat at April’s UFC 210 in their rematch.

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Photo by Kevin Hoffman for USA TODAY Sports

And after Johnson shockingly retired after losing to Cormier a second time, it’s hardly surprising a “Rumble” match-up isn’t being discussed for Jones, even if would be one of the few huge spectacle bouts left for Jones at 205 pounds. That talk is about to be ramped up in a big way, however, as Johnson appeared on today’s edition of The MMA Hour to reveal that, after attending the fight in person, his competitive juices did begin flowing a bit:

“It was definitely great seeing it from a fan point of view, you know what I mean? I absolutely loved the fights. This card was amazing. But it did kind of get me going a little bit seeing Jon and Daniel in there doing their thing. And I don’t know man, we’ll see what happens.”

Pressed for more specifics on any kind of return, “Rumble” revealed he would only come back to meet Jones if the financial side of the bout made sense, as he’s beaten everyone else at the top of 205 save for Cormier:

“Well, you know what? I’m kind of on the fence, you know what I’m saying? If I’m going to come back, it’d definitely have to be worth it for me, you know what I’m saying, financially, because I have so much going on already and things that are great. But if I come back, it would just be to fight the legend in Jon Jones himself. I’ve beaten pretty much anyone else except for Daniel and Jon.”

Photo Credit: Brad Penner for USA TODAY Sports

Long known as quite possibly the hardest hitter in the UFC and perhaps even MMA history, “Rumble” got the hype for any potential bout with Jones building by offering his belief that the big shots Cormier landed on Jones Saturday night would have put him down if they had been his:

“Jon got hit with some big punches from Daniel. I know if I would hit him with some of those punches, most likely he would have went down, you know I mean? Jon is a hell of a fighter; have nothing but respect for him and his family.”

A “Rumble” return could definitely be a boon to a currently shallow UFC light heavyweight talent pool that is suffering for true contenders outside of Gustafsson and the suddenly surging Volkan Oezdemir, but there are several hurdles to clear for it to become a reality.

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First of all, Johnson would have to notify the UFC he was ending his retirement and re-enter the USADA testing pool before he was cleared to fight similar to what Lesnar would also have to do in order to fight Jones (Johnson has no suspension left like Lesnar, however). That would take several months, and it’s entirely possible the UFC would have already booked Jones vs. Lesnar by then because it’s a fight that’s just too big to pass up.

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Second, Johnson has already lost twice in one-sided fashion to Cormier, whom Jones, in turn, defeated twice himself, the second of which was a devastating knockout. While MMA math rarely adds up accurately, it’s also safe to think “Bones” would be a heavy early favorite over “Rumble.”

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But if anyone can change a fight with one punch, it’s the former number one contender who retired perhaps a bit too early. If he does choose to return to fight “Bones” and can actually get the fight, he’s going to have to show up with his head truly in the game in order to compete with the best light heavyweight to ever set foot in the Octagon. Should “Rumble” return to fight Jon Jones, and would he be able to drop him like he thinks he could?