“Rumble” is planning to exit retirement early next year.
Anthony Johnson, a former UFC light heavyweight title challenger, is preparing to return to the UFC in March 2020, ESPN reported Tuesday. Johnson intends on competing at heavyweight.
Johnson plans to soon re-enter the USADA drug testing pool, according to the report. Any fighter who comes out of retirement must be subject to testing for six months before being eligible to return to action, per the UFC anti-doping program.
Johnson wants his first fight to be against a ranked opponent, such as former training partner Alistair Overeem or ex-heavyweight titleholder Junior dos Santos, per the report.
Johnson retired in April 2017 immediately after an unsuccessful title bid against Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. He has hinted at a comeback multiple times since then, but has not committed to one until now.
Johnson took up heavy weightlifting after his retirement and seemingly bulked up. That could be why he plans to fight in the heavyweight division as opposed to his former home of 205 pounds. Johnson, earlier in his MMA career, has fought as low as 170 pounds.
Johnson competed for the UFC light heavyweight title twice, both against Cormier. He first fought “DC” in May 2015 for the vacant belt, then again two years later. He lost both fights by submission. Known as one of the most ferocious punchers in the promotion, Johnson went 6-2 as a light heavyweight in the UFC.
Johnson has stayed somewhat busy in the world of combat sports since retiring from MMA competition. In July, Johnson faced Craig Jones in a grappling match at Submission Underground 9. He lost via heel hook 47 seconds into the match. Johnson also serves as an ambassador for Bare Knuckle FC.
Johnson, 35, has been involved in his fair share of controversy, as well. In May, he was arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident. He was charged with one count of battery/domestic battery.