Former two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson has along with the UFC, mutually agreed his release from the promotion following two separate stints with the organization since 2007. In turn, the Dublin, Georgia native has made quite the surprising move to Scott Coker’s Bellator MMA on a multi-fight deal.
Johnson, who had recently re-entered the USADA testing-pool ahead of a projected return to the Octagon as soon as April, has instead linked up with Bellator on a multi-fight deal, with plans set for him to make his promotional bow as soon as the opening-quarter of next year in a light heavyweight matchup. News of Johnson’s transition from the UFC to Bellator was first reported by ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani.
The renowned knockout ace most recently featured professionally at UFC 210 in April of 2017, dropping a second career rear-naked choke defeat to former two-weight world champion, Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier in a second-round submission defeat.
In quite a surprising announcement, Johnson called time on his professional mixed martial arts career immediately after the defeat, and in the three years since, began powerlifting and got involved in the marijuana and CBD business.
A punishing striker, Johnson, who holds a 22-6 professional résumé — has notched a further sixteen knockout victories. In those stoppage wins, Johnson has bested the likes of Charlie Brenneman, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, Jimi Manuwa, and Glover Teixeira of note.
Whilst plans are in place for Johnson to feature at 205-pounds in his first outing under the Bellator banner, he’ll be joining a division recently conquered by Vadim Nemkov.
An eventual heavyweight excursion is also expected for the 36-year-old — which would mark his first matchup at heavyweight since a 2013 unanimous decision win over former UFC titleholder, Andrei Arlovski. The current Bellator heavyweight pacesetter is, of course, one-time opponent, the aforementioned, Bader.