Anthony Johnson has nothing but good things to say about his three-fight run with World Series of Fighting, but he’s happy to be back in the UFC. And after watching his Blackzilians teammate Abel Trujillo pocket $125,000 in bonuses at this past weekend’s UFC 169 event, “Rumble” can’t wait to step into the cage.
“It’s a business, so I just had to see which one would provide the better future for me, and that would be UFC right now,” Johnson told MMAjunkie Radio. “I see all these guys getting ‘Knockout of the Night’ and ‘Fight of the Night’ over there in the UFC, and I was like, ‘I would have put on a way better fight than that.’”
Johnson wasn’t likely referring to Trujillo’s epic UFC 169 clash with Jamie Varner. After all, not much more could be asked of two men than what Trujillo and Varner offered up on Saturday night, with the two providing the biggest highlights of an otherwise forgettable night. But his point is well-made: The UFC simply offers the greatest potential to earn the biggest paychecks in the sport.
It was that reality that led Johnson to walk away from World Series of Fighting, where he fought three times in the past 14 months.
“It was difficult because I have so much respect for those guys, and they did a lot for me,” Johnson said. “I never had any bad blood with them. We were always on the same page. They’re just overall good people over there at World Series of Fighting. I really enjoyed myself there.
“They were real respectful of it. I showed them respect, and they showed it right back.”
The feeling was apparently mutual, as World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo today took to Twitter to wish Johnson luck in his return to the octagon.
“Wishing @Anthony_Rumble the very best on his next fight at @UFC best of luck bro!!” Sefo wrote.
Johnson (16-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) now meets Phil Davis (12-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) at UFC 172, which takes place at Maryland’s April 26 at Baltimore Arena. It’s an opportunity for Johnson to make an immediate impact in the division, as Davis currently sits at No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light heavyweight rankings.
Johnson said he respects Davis but also plans to make an immediate impact with his return.
“I know we’re going to put on a show for everybody,” Johnson said. “He’s a class act, and we have a lot of respect for each other, but at the same time, we’re going to punch each other in the mouth.”
Johnson brings a six-fight winning streak to the fight. He’s 8-1 in his past nine overall appearances, and perhaps most importantly, he no longer has to worry about the near-impossible weight cut he used to make to get to 170 pounds.
And while he enjoyed his time with World Series of Fighting, it’s impossible to ignore the joy in Johnson’s voice as he talks about the chance to return to the sport’s biggest promotion after more than two years away.
“I didn’t want to let my emotions get the best of me, but I’m very blessed to be back in the UFC, and I know I’ll make the best of it now,” Johnson said. “I just feel like I’m more blessed than fired up. I worked really hard to get back to where I am right now.”