Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson is still on course to make his comeback in 2021, but it won’t be in the UFC as had originally been planned.
Instead, Johnson came to a “mutual agreement” to be released from the UFC and has instead signed a deal with rival promotion Bellator.
As things stand the reason for Johnson’s UFC departure remain unclear. The 36-year-old had entered back into USADA’s mandatory anti-doping test pool back in August, which would have required him to keep a clean testing record for six months before he would be given the green-light to compete in the UFC again, so it seemed that he had every intention of competing in the Octagon at that time.
It’s certainly possible that Johnson is just another high-profile fighter like Yoel Romero who is caught up in the UFC’s current swingeing roster cuts which Dana White warned was coming this past Saturday night, indicating that as many as 60 fighters could be axed.
However, even though Johnson has been on the sidelines for the past three years, there was still a buzz about the possibility of the two-time 205lb title contender returning to the Octagon and at a time when the UFC’s light-heavyweight division is thinner than they’d like in terms of star power, it would be a strange decision to turn their back on one of the most devastating KO specialists in the game.
The UFC’s loss is certainly Bellator’s gain though, and whether it’s at light-heavyweight or heavyweight, ‘Rumble’ could make a big impact, as other former UFC fighter’s who became champions in the Bellator promotion like Ryan Bader and Phil Davis can testify, having both been beaten by Johnson a few years ago.