Anthony Johnson has changed his mind about fighting, but he says he did so for good reason.
Once retired, Johnson (22-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC), a former UFC light heavyweight title challenger, is back in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool in anticipation of an MMA comeback.
Still under contract with the UFC, Johnson also serves as an ambassador for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, which held a press conference Tuesday. Johnson was in attendance and answered a few questions pertaining to his fighting future.
Johnson said his love for MMA, paired with the lack of damage he took during his career, made him confident his career wouldn’t take a sharp plummet should he return.
“Honestly, I miss the sport,” Johnson said. “I miss the sport. I miss competing. I know at one point I was against guys coming back from retirement. You just see them get mopped up. B.J. Penn came back, got mopped up. I’ve seen everyone that came back out of retirement get mopped up. I just don’t want to be one of those guys to get mopped up, but I still feel good. I have no injuries.
“While I was in the UFC, I didn’t really get hit much unless I lost, and that wasn’t often. But you never know. I got a couple more fights on my contract with the UFC, and then after that, I may fight for (BKFC president) Dave (Feldman).”
Johnson was also asked about his interest in bare-knuckle fighting, to which he did not rule out the possibility in the the future.
“These guys in bare-knuckle are a different kind of beast,” Johnson said. “MMA fighters are badasses, but to get punched with some knuckles, it takes a different type of mentality to like that. And I don’t like getting hit. We’ll see. It takes a lot of heart and pride and toughness (to do bare-knuckle).
“… These bare-knuckle fighters are something different. They’re crazy. But I like crazy. And the world is crazy right now, so why not join everything, have some fun? Join the movement of craziness, and have some fun.”
Johnson has not competed since a UFC 210 title loss to Daniel Cormier in April 2017. The loss was his second in five fights, having also lost to Cormier at UFC 187 in May 2015.
There is currently no known timeline or opponent for Johnson’s return.