Anthony Johnson has heard the talk about his limitations as a fighter, and he simply doesn’t care.
During a conference call to promote UFC 210, “Rumble” was asked about Daniel Cormier’s recent assertion that he has no chance of defeating the light heavyweight champion if their rematch goes past the first round. During his second UFC stint, four of Johnson’s six victories have ended inside the first frame. Another, a knockout of Jimi Manuwa at UFC 191, ended in round two. Only Phil Davis survived to the final bell in defeat against the 33-year-old knockout artist.
“The majority of the community believes I’m a first round fighter because most of my fights end in the first round. They’re entitled to their own opinion, and that’s fine with me,” Johnson said. “I have nothing to prove to anybody except myself. If he wants to believe that and everybody else wants to believe that, that’s completely fine with me.”
Johnson nearly put Cormier away in the first round of their title bout at UFC 187, dropping “DC” with an overhand right in the early moments of the first round. From there it was all Cormier, however, as the American Kickboxing Academy product overwhelmed Johnson with his wrestling en route to a submission victory 2:39 into round three. While Cormier claims that he has more options to win their second meeting at UFC 210, Johnson is confident that he has improved from where he was the first time.
I’m definitely not the same fighter I was two years ago,” Johnson said. “Every day, every week, every month, every year I’m getting better and better. You’ll see a different guy out there the next time you see me fight.”
Johnson has been on a roll since that loss, authoring dominant stoppages of Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira in his last three outings. He admits that he used the loss to Cormier to fuel him.
“It definitely lit a fire under my ass to train harder and know what I needed to do to beat this guy,” he said. “But he’s the champ and that’s what it is. Everybody trains to beat the champion and be the best.”
Johnson owns an impressive career resume that also includes triumphs over the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Davis, Andre Arlovski, David Branch and Dan Hardy. That, along with his well-earned reputation as the most feared man in the division, makes Johnson a memorable figure in the sport. To truly make his mark, though, Johnson knows he must capture championship gold before his career is through (Vegas odds).
“That’s always the ultimate goal for a top athlete in mixed martial arts or any sport: To be the best or get a championship. Getting the belt will definitely put me right up there with the best of the best,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to be a could have been, or one of those guys they talk about on the [message] boards that this guy could’ve been this or could’ve been that…I want to be that guy that they say, ‘He did it.’”