Uncasville, CT — For a fighter walking away from Bellator 258 with not only a win, but a light heavyweight grand prix win, and the promise of a title shot, Anthony Johnson was awfully upset with himself following the event.
“Rumble” made his promotional debut Friday night, earning a knockout of Jose Augusto. Augusto was stepping in for Yoel Romero, and many saw him as cannon fodder for the powerful Johnson. But it was Johnson himself who was knocked down first, something he is not accustomed to.
“I don’t mind getting hit, but I got hit and I got dropped. What the hell. That was a piss-poor performance on my part. I’m better than that, I know I’m better than that, you guys know I’m better than that,” Johnson exclaimed following the fight, his first in roughly four years. “I’m not going to call it a lucky shot. He hit me, he caught me slipping, got in on me.”
Listening to Johnson, you’d think he’d lost the fight rather than won it. “I’m pissed at myself that he hit me. I know that’s the name of the game, we’re in fighting. But man, I’m just mad at myself. That was a dumbass performance.”
Everything went wrong, Johnson admitted. “I’m better than that, and I know that. I know I’m better than that. I know I didn’t look my best.” The former UFC star is not about to make any excuses either. “I’m not going to say it was ring rust, I’m not going to say I was overconfident or cocky. I knew the man was going to come and bring it, he’s got an incredible squad. That’s just me slipping. I shouldn’t have did that.”
Regardless of how he got there, however, Anthony Johnson does walk away from Bellator 258 with the win. He’ll meet champion Vadim Nemkov in the light heavyweight grand prix semifinal later this summer.
“It’s an honor to fight him. He’s a beast. He’s the most complete fighter of this tournament. He can strike, he can wrestle, he can submit people fairly easy. I’m a big fan of his,” stated Johnson. But Rumble didn’t want to spend too much time talking about the champ, still too upset with himself.
“You’re only as good as your last performance. If I fight Nemkov, I definitely have to perform better than what I did tonight, and I will,” he said. “I know that.”
Watch the full Bellator 258 post-fight press conference with Anthony Johnson above.