Months after reports suggested that Anthony Johnson hopes to return to the UFC next year as part of the promotion’s heavyweight division, it now appears that “Rumble” has had a change of plans and is instead targeting the light heavyweight division, specifically its current two-time undisputed champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.
Quoting his recent appearance on former UFC fighter Brendan Schaub’s Below the Belt podcast, MMA Mania wrote that Johnson is now seeking a return to the promotion as a light heavyweight, despite the fact that he is currently several pounds overweight. The publication noted that the 35-year-old fighter recently weighed in at 285 pounds, but given how far away he is from making weight in his original division, he intends to further evaluate his plans once he loses about 50 pounds.
“I’m gonna wait until I get about, when I lose about 10 more pounds, 235, I wanna see how my body feels and then if it feels good, then I’m going to probably make 205,” Johnson was quoted as saying.
“We’ll make it happen if I get low enough. We’ll fight at 205. That’s a fight I wanted. I think Jon wanted that fight too, before everything happened. That situation, which, it’s over with, it’s in the past. But that was a fight, that’s why I went up to 205, man.”
Although Johnson has mostly established himself in UFC as a 205-pounder, he started his MMA career as a welterweight and also had some fights in the heavyweight division.
As reported separately by MMA Fighting, Jones and Johnson were originally scheduled to fight in the main event of UFC 187 in 2015. This bout, however, was ultimately scrapped when Jones was stripped of his light heavyweight title following an alleged hit-and-run incident. “Bones” was then replaced by his longtime rival, Daniel Cormier, who went on to submit Johnson in the third round of their fight. Their rematch at UFC 210 in 2017 yielded a similar result, as Johnson announced his retirement from mixed martial arts soon after.
Looking back on his decision to retire, Johnson told Schaub that he didn’t feel as motivated to fight Cormier as he would have been to get a shot at Jones and his light heavyweight title. He stressed that the “fire” wasn’t in him anymore when “DC” was announced as a replacement.
As of this writing, Jones has yet to comment on Johnson’s new plans for his UFC comeback. MMA Fighting, however, observed that the light heavyweight division has been so “devoid of interesting challengers” for Jones that he recently called out Israel Adesanya shortly before he defeated Robert Whitaker for the middleweight championship at UFC 243 earlier this month.