Former UFC fighter Anthony “Rumble” Johnson pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of Domestic Battery on Monday in Florida, according to TMZ Sports.
Johnson was arrested on May 6 following a domestic dispute in Florida. MMAWeekly.com confirmed the arrest by the Boca Raton Police Services.
According to the police report, obtained by TMZ Sports, a woman called police to report an altercation with Johnson, her boyfriend at the time. The woman claimed that she was packing Johnson’s belongings when he picked her up and “put her in a football hold” and carried her to another room.
The report went on to say that Johnson admitted picking her up and carrying her, but said that he never had any intent to hurt her.
The nature of the incident warranted Johnson being taken into custody and charged with misdemeanor battery (touch or strike), which occurs when a person touches or strikes another person against their will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
Police indicated that the woman did not appear to have any visible injuries.
In confirming the not guilty plea to MMA Junkie, Johnson’s attorney, Michael Walsh, disputed the idea that the incident be characterized as domestic violence.
“Anthony Johnson, if he hits you, your grandkids are going to feel it,” Walsh said on Wednesday. “He’s trying to deescalate her verbal argument. So he simply picks her up gently and puts her down. He simply did not want to argue anymore and put her in another room. That happens every day in America in domestic relationships. … It might be a domestic dispute, but it’s not domestic violence.”
Johnson will now await a case disposition hearing, according to MMA Junkie, where Florida officials will determine whether or not to pursue charges, ask for more time, or drop the case. He is currently under a no-contact order and must stay away from the woman, as well as refrain from possessing a weapon and using drugs or alcohol.
This wasn’t the first time that Johnson had been arrested on an alleged domestic violence charge. He was also arrested in 2009, stemming from an incident with an ex-girlfriend. He was eventually convicted on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence and sentenced to three years of court probation, eight hours of community service, one day of county jail, and ordered to undergo 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling.
Anthony Johnson hasn’t fought in the Octagon in more than two years
Johnson, 35, hasn’t fought mixed martial arts since losing to Daniel Cormier in a battle for the light heavyweight title at UFC 210 on April 8, 2017.
He initially made an impact in MMA in the welterweight division, but never fully hit his stride until he moved to light heavyweight and heavyweight, where he defeated the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, and others.
Johnson twice fought and lost to Cormier, each time with the UFC light heavyweight championship on the line. He has said that the lone bout that he has considered returning to MMA for is a heavyweight fight with Jon Jones.