Fans were left stunned and disappointed last April when former two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title contender Anthony Johnson announced his retirement from the sport after a second loss to 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier.
The 34 year-old had been arguably the most feared man in the division; his losses to Cormier had been the only blemishes on a run that saw him knock out a string of Top-10 contenders including Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and current Bellator MMA light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader.
“Rumble” appears to have been enjoying retirement, posting images of himself getting into bodybuilding at his gym and looking even bigger than he was last year. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, was a recent guest on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show and said while his client is loving retirement he is keen to make a return to the Octagon.
“I talked to Rumble last week, right? And he said if Jon Jones fought ‘DC’ as a heavyweight, and if Jon wins, he wants to come back and this is the only fight he thinks he’d come back to fight, Jon Jones.
"Anthony Johnson is 285 pounds [right now]," Abdelaziz added. "He wants to come back as a heavyweight. But I think it [will] have to be something different. He can’t just come back. He misses the sport and says he will come back to fight someone like Jon Jones.
"He’s just having fun [with the bodybuilding]," Abdelaziz continued. "He’s been in the sport for a long time, he’s resting his body, he’s having fun. He will fight again for sure. For sure, 100-percent.”
Any return to fighting would be delayed by the need to enter the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool for the required six months, but he would be a welcome and intriguing addition to the heavyweight division. Meanwhile, “Bones” is set for a rematch with Gustafsson for the vacant 205-pound belt which takes place at UFC 232 on Dec. 29.
Johnson and Jones were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 187 back in May 2015 but the fight was scrapped due to Jones’ hit-and-run incident. The UFC stripped “Bones” of his title and announced that Cormier would be given the opportunity to compete against “Rumble” for the belt. DC’s wrestling proved the difference on the night as he took Johnson down in the third round, securing a rear naked choke to claim the vacant belt.
The pair met again last April in what would be Johnson’s last fight. The rematch went similarly, with Cormier winning via second-round rear-naked choke, and “Rumble” announced his retirement in his post-fight interview.