Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson planning his UFC return

After nearly two-and-a-half years out of the Octagon, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is planning for his UFC return.

Johnson’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Tuesday that his client is poised for a return to the Octagon in 2020. The plan is for him to compete at heavyweight. 

Why the delay until next year?

Johnson stepped away from fighting after losing to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210 on April 8, 2017. When he failed to win the UFC light heavyweight championship that night, he declared his retirement and hasn’t fought since.

As a retired fighter, Johnson is required by the UFC Anti-Doping Policy to re-enter the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool for six months and clear any drug screens before he is allowed to fight again. 

Anthony Johnson’s UFC history

Johnson initially fought in the UFC as a welterweight. He competed at the highest levels of the division, but constantly struggled to make weight. His battle with the scale eventually forced his exit from the Octagon.

Johnson found great success fighting at light heavyweight and heavyweight outside of the UFC, where he defeated the likes of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.

He continued his winning ways when he returned to the UFC, where he went 6-2 in the Octagon before retiring. Though he defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, and other top 205-pound contenders, Johnson was unsuccessful in his title bids, twice losing to Cormier in UFC light heavyweight championship bouts.

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Johnson has often teased that he would return to the Octagon as a heavyweight if the UFC offered a large enough payday. Having missed out on a scheduled fight with Jon Jones at 205 pounds, Johnson has long yearned for a shot at Jones at heavyweight. Perhaps that fight might finally come to fruition.