It was a moment of disbelief in Sweden. Seemingly everyone, shocked at what just happened, was double-checking themselves, asking if Anthony Johnson’s win over hometown favorite Alexander Gustafsson was real.
Included in those questioning the reality was Johnson himself.
“It just didn’t seem real. I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just beat that guy who, in my opinion, beat Jon Jones,’” Johnson said during the UFC on FOX 14 post-fight press conference. “So I was really in a state of shock. Nobody’s ever stopped Alexander before like that, so I was just speechless, really.”
After getting poked in the eye, Johnson found a second wind and turned on the afterburners in his pursuit of a finish early Sunday morning in Stockholm.
With Gustafsson against the fence, “Rumble” showed why he carries that nickname and obliterated Gustafsson, practically rattling the cage with impact of his punches.
The force of his strikes haven’t been oversold in the UFC promos. You might even argue that they’ve been undersold, because he hits hard, really hard. So intense are his strikes that when Johnson says he wants to give UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones a beating far worse than Gustafsson handed him, it leaves you thinking he’s not trying to feed you false hype.
“I think I’ll be the hardest puncher that he’s ever faced,” Johnson said of a potential fight with Jones. “Hopefully I can just do things that nobody else has done to him. Alexander gave him the worst beating he’s ever had. Hopefully I can give one 10 times worse.
“I never come into a fight with any type of emotion. This is just what I love to do and I have fun with it. I don’t have anything against Jon. This is what we do and we’re good at it. We’re both alpha males, so we just want to keep winning.”
The look on Johnson’s face during the post-fight press conference was still one of disbelief. But the reality is he’s now the No. 1 contender to the 205-pound crown, and he’ll see Jones later in 2015.
And although he was in shock just as much as the Swedish crowd that saw their countryman fall, Johnson never gave up hope. Clearly, it paid off.
“I never gave up hope on myself, but I never thought I’d be in this situation,” he said. “This is a blessing.”
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