After a long delay, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson is finally on the path to making a return to the UFC after enrolling in USADA’s manditory drug-testing program, which he’ll have to continue for six months before he can step back into the Octagon.
When word first emerged that Johnson was considering a comeback last year he was sporting a heavyweight physique, but he has slimmed down since then and so will be competing at light-heavyweight, according to his manager Ali Abdelaziz.
Before his retirement in 2017, Johnson had fought at 205lbs for five years and had been one of the most feared strikers in the game, having knocked out the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira.
However, on two occasions when he fought his way to a title shot, ‘Rumble’ came up against Daniel Cormier and was submitted by rear-naked choke on both occasions.
With that in mind it’s somewhat of a coincidence that news of ‘Rumble’s return comes just after Cormier’s retirement fight this past Saturday night, while an added bonus for Johnson may be that the 205lb division’s reigning champion Jon Jones has just vacated the belt and is looking to move up to heavyweight.
That means there’s never been a better chance for Johnson to become a light-heavyweight champion, with the likes of Dominick Reyes, Thiago Santos, Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira and Anthony Smith now the main players in the division, but it remains to be seen how much Johnson has left in the tank as he’s now 36-years-old and has been out of action for the past three years.
First things first though, ‘Rumble’ has to test clean for the next six months in order to pave the way for his comeback fight, by which time there’s likely to already have been a title bout to establish a new champion.