Anthony Johnson to Return to MMA at Heavyweight in 2020

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Anthony Johnson UFC
Anthony Johnson Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

After retiring in 2017, Anthony Johnson will return to the cage in 2020 one weight class higher, the heavyweight division.

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto first broke the news, crediting the manager of Anthony Johnson, Ali Abdelaziz.

Under USADA regulations, retired fighters must re-enter the drug-testing pool and are subject to tests for a six-month period before they can compete. According to Abdelaziz, “Rumble” is preparing to enter the testing pool and would like to return to fighting in March 2020, which would require him to enter the pool next month.

As for who he’d like to fight, Johnson wants a ranked opponent and specifically named Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos. Johnson, who is somehow a former welterweight, will certainly have to cut down to the 265-pound limit given the massive physique he is displaying.

Anthony Johnson abruptly retired in the cage in 2017 after losing in a light heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier. In his second UFC stint, Johnson went 5-2 with five knockouts over top competition like Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, and Glover Teixeira. Both of his losses came against Cormier in title fights.

During his first run with the UFC, which was at welterweight, Johnson went 7-4 and missed weight three times. The most egregious of which was in what was supposed to be his middleweight debut against Vitor Belfort. Johnson missed by a whopping 11 pounds after moving up a weight class. On top of that, he lost by first-round submission and was cut by the promotion.

There was quite a bit of mystery surrounding Johnson’s retirement. First, it was rumored that he’d join the Los Angeles Rams staff due to a Twitter banner he selected. Next, it was rumored that he was starting a legal marijuana business. He then popped up with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship during promotional activities, but never stepped into the cage for them.

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