Anthony Johnson’s time in retirement might be short.
Johnson’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that “Rumble,” known for his devastating knockout power, is planning a potential comeback and they will be meeting with UFC president Dana White this week to discuss it.
“It has to make sense for him,” Abdel-Aziz said.
Johnson, 33, would likely return to the UFC as a heavyweight after spending the last three years competing at 205 pounds. Johnson fell to UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier by second-round submission in the main event of UFC 210 back in April. Afterwards, he shockingly announced his retirement in the Octagon.
“He’ll come back as a heavyweight,” Abdel-Aziz said. “We want him to come back as a heavyweight.”
Rumble said in May that he was going to be venturing into the marijuana business, which would take him away from focusing on MMA full time. He’s also been outspoken about concussions and the brain disease CTE as reasons why he doesn’t want to fight long term. Back in July, Johnson said he was not considering a comeback.
Abdel-Aziz acknowledged on The MMA Hour that Johnson would have to be in the USADA drug testing pool for six months before returning to competition, which means a potential next fight wouldn’t happen until the second quarter of 2018 at the earliest.
Johnson (22-6) has fought twice for the UFC light heavyweight title and those are his only losses, both to Cormier, going back to 2012. At that time, during his first run with the UFC, he attempted to cut to welterweight. After being released from the promotion, he wisely chose to fight at 205 pounds, rather than 170 or 185, and it resurrected his career in World Series of Fighting.
Now, if it happens, it seems like Rumble will be returning to fight in the heavyweight division, where he’s only competed once (a unanimous decision win over Andrei Arlovski at WSOF 2 in March 2013).
“We’re meeting with UFC this week to see what he wants to do,” Abdel-Aziz said. “Dana White really loves Anthony Johnson. How can you not love Anthony Johnson? He’s terrifying.”