Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has heard plenty of negative talk about him and his skills during an 11-year career in mixed martial arts, much of which has been under the banner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
But leading up to a rematch with Daniel Cormier for the light-heavyweight championship at UFC 210 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo tonight, Johnson is paying no attention to the doubters, not when he is so close to the goal of winning a title.
“People are going to talk about something,” Johnson said. “If I wasn’t a knockout artist, they would say, ‘Oh, he can’t knock people out.’ If I didn’t know how to kick, they would say, ‘He can’t kick.’ If I didn’t know how to wrestle, they’re going to say, ‘I can’t wrestle.’
“If I had great cardio, they would try to compare me to Demetrius Johnson. You know what I’m saying? When are people not talking? So it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been through too much to worry about what society has to say about me, or anybody or him. This doesn’t bother me, dude.”
When Johnson last stepped into The Octagon against Cormier nearly two years ago, he did so with the reputation of a hard-hitting mixed martial artist with one-punch knockout power, and put that skill set on display early. However, Cormier recovered from the knockdown and earned a third-round submission win.
Since then, to earn his way back into the UFC light-heavyweight title picture, Johnson has won three straight fights, all by knockout.
To earn the title shot, Johnson lived up to his nickname and knocked out Glover Teixeira in just 13 seconds in the co-main event of UFC 202 back in August.
Johnson came out like a man who wanted a rematch and landed a right-handed punch to Teixeira’s face, which floored the No. 2 ranked contender in the division and followed up with a pair of right-handed hammer fists before the referee called a stop to the contest.
“To anything, I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right with what you’re saying. I finish people in the first round,’” Johnson said. “People think I’m just a first-round fighter, and that is fine with me. I don’t have anything to prove to those people.”
A native of Dublin, Georgia, Johnson has now won three straight fights, all of which have been via knockout, and two of those came in the first round. Johnson is now 22-5 overall in his professional MMA career, and has not lost since his fight for the title against Cormier at UFC 187 on May 23, 2015.
Johnson is 12-5 in his UFC career.
“Those are people with issues, people that dwell on the past,” Johnson said. “They’re not willing to move forward, and that’s why they won’t be successful. That’s why they’ll never go forward in life. You can’t hold onto things forever.
“This is fighting, dude. It’s nothing to dwell on. Either you sit on your (butt) and mope, mope about it, or you get off your (butt) and go do something about it. So far, I’ve been doing something about it, so that’s what I’m going to do.”