by Mick Hammond
There’s no reason why Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight prospect Anthony “Rumble” Johnson couldn’t become one of the promotion’s next superstars.
A combination of personality outside the Octagon and knockout power inside, he may just find himself in the spotlight more often than not if he can produce more performances like he did in his last fight, a 51-second destruction of Tommy Speer at the last UFC Fight Night in April.
Should he execute his style of fighting in such a way at this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night at The Palms in Las Vegas against Kevin Burns, Johnson may well be on his way towards that stardom.
“I feel great,” he stated enthusiastically. “Like always, I’ve got a couple of pounds to lose, but other than that, my cardio is good, I’m mentally prepared and I’m just ready to get it on.”
According to Johnson, preparations for this upcoming fight couldn’t have gone better, which is a scary thought considering how he feels he prepared for his last fight.
“I was really happy with training camp this time,” he said. “It was better than the last one I had for my fight with Tommy Speer.
“This training camp was awesome. I had a lot of support and people helping me out, so I think it will pay off even better this fight than the last fight I had.”
Do not let Johnson’s enthusiasm fool you, though, he is firmly focused on his task at hand and by no means is he taking Kevin Burns lightly.
“I know this guy’s kind of a grappler, but he’s willing to trade too,” he said of Burns. “I don’t think his striking is as good as mine, so we’ll see Saturday night.
“He’s a tough guy and good on the ground, I mean, a blue belt (Burns) submitting a black belt (Roan Carneiro at UFC 85) is no joke. I think both of us will test each other’s skills to see how good we really are.”
Respect aside, Johnson feels that Burns had better fight perfectly should he have any chance in the fight, or suffer the consequences.
“If I see an opening, I go for it,” he exclaimed.
“You make a mistake, you better hope I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see it, but if I catch you doing it and you think I’m not paying attention, then that’s when you get in trouble.”
Regardless of the outcome of this match-up, Johnson is looking to stay more active in the coming months than he has previously, especially when it comes to returning home for a potential fight.
“I’m hoping to fight in Atlanta (at UFC 88) after this fight,” he commented. “I’m originally from Georgia, so hopefully I’ll get to fight on the Sept. 6 card with Chuck Liddell and Rashad (Evans).
“Hopefully at the end of the year I’ll also get to fight on the New Year’s show; that’s always been a dream of mine to fight on that show.”
Beyond that, he has big goals set for himself across multiple weight classes.
“First and foremost, I want to be the champ,” he said. “I’m going to keep working my ass off so I can be the champ one day. After I win that belt, I can go up to 185 and win that belt.
“I think that would be the most awesome thing out there to accomplish. 185 is down the road, but my immediate focus is on the 170 title.”
With big goals, personality and potential, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson may just make a name for himself in more than one weight division, but first and foremost he’s looking to make an impact at welterweight this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 14.
“I’d like to thank my sponsors Tapout and KNOXX; the UFC and MMAWeekly for this interview,” concluded Johnson. “I’d like to send a shoutout to my boys in RBG, Royal Blue Generation, and everybody that supported me after my loss; my mom and dad, and family overall.
“I always go out there and perform at my best and give it all that I have. I just want to keep the fans and organization happy – if they’re happy, I’m happy.”