One of the UFC’s hardest-hitting knockout artists of the past decade is one step closer to coming out of retirement.
Former two-time light heavyweight title challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson will re-enter the UFC’s mandatory drug testing program this week, his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN on Monday. Johnson, 36, withdrew himself from the testing pool in 2017 when he announced his retirement. He will have to make himself available for testing for six months before he is eligible to fight.
Abdelaziz also told ESPN that Johnson intends to compete in the 205-pound light heavyweight division. Johnson had previously stated he was considering a return at heavyweight.
Fighting out of South Florida, Johnson (22-6) retired in April 2017 immediately after coming up short in a UFC title fight against then-champion Daniel Cormier.
The timing of his decision to formally re-enter the testing program is ironic in multiple ways. Cormier, who beat Johnson twice in UFC title fights, announced his retirement on Monday. And Jon Jones, who Johnson was scheduled to fight in 2015 until he was forced to pull out due to legal issues, announced he was vacating the 205-pound title on Monday.
Johnson has expressed interest in finally facing Jones at some point. If that does indeed happen, it appears it will take place either at heavyweight or not for the light heavyweight championship, at least if it happens any time soon.
Johnson made his debut with the UFC in 2007 as a welterweight and fought exclusively in the Octagon until 2012. The UFC released Johnson in 2012, before re-signing him in 2014. After reuniting with the UFC, Johnson won six of his next seven contests, including four by first-round knockout. His only kryptonite at light heavyweight proved to be Cormier, whom he lost to in 2015 and 2017.