On Saturday night, Anthony Johnson – more widely known by the nickname “Rumble” – came up short in a light heavyweight title fight with Daniel Cormier, succumbing to a second-round rear-naked choke. Shortly after this failed title bid, the fearsome light heavyweight contender surprised the world by announcing that he’d be retiring from mixed martial arts to focus on a new career –apparently one unrelated to the sport.
“This was my last fight,” he told Octagon commentator Joe Rogan shortly after his loss. “I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t even tell Dana White. My coaches knew, my family knew and my friends knew. I didn’t want any distractions. But I have to thank you all for being there for me. I gave my commitment to another job. Something that I have wanted to do for a while. It is not MMA related or anything like that. It is just time for me to move on to something else. I’m tired of getting punched by guys and rolling around on the ground with guys and stuff like that. Ain’t nothing fun about that.”
More recently, Rumble took to his official Instagram account to give a new statement on his retirement, calling it “the end of Rumble.” See this statement below:
Hello Monday! A new beginning starts today and I am so happy about that… My body can recover and I can focus on something different other than mma. MY life has been amazing and I haven't come close to scratching the surface. I'll miss mma and every aspect of the game, but my time is over and I'm ready to watch the new generation take over. Now I can be Anthony Johnson/AJ and not Anthony Rumble Johnson! Thank you all for the love and support throughout the yrs… Rumble Squad forever! #RumbleSquad The End of Rumble
As he embarks on this new phase of his career, Rumble will be remembered as one of the hardest hitters in MMA history. From the welterweight division where his career began, to the light heavyweight division where it ended, his punches and kicks always seemed extra concussive – comparable to getting hit in the head with a 40-pound dumbbell or a cinderblock. So, while Rumble’s retirement is undeniably disappointing for the fans, it has probably made the light heavyweight division safer for all the men who compete there.
While Rumble will always be revered as one of the most powerful punchers in MMA, he should also be remembered as one of the game’s classiest competitors – a bona fide good guy in a sport where machismo and bravado rule. There’s perhaps no better example of this than his famously wrapping the belt around Daniel Cormier’s waist after losing their first fight, back in 2014.
Thanks for the memories, and good luck in the next chapter of your career, Anthony Johnson!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/10/2017.