Former UFC welterweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has had his shares of trials and tribulations throughout his career. He was cut by the UFC after missing weight in what was to be his middleweight debut against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142 in May. From there he signed with Titan Fighting Championships to compete in their 185lb. division and was set to face fellow UFC vet David Branch at Titan FC 22 in May, but missed weight once again forcing the bout to be contested at a catchweight of 195lbs.
Thankfully Johnson has a great support system and they sat him down and went over where he was at in his career and where he wanted to go. His biggest supporter is Glenn Robinson, President of Authentic Sports Management which is home of the Blackzilians. Robinson believes that Johnson is finally headed in the right direction and is competing in a weight class that will allow him to maximize his full potential.
“We are excited about Anthony coming back and fighting for Titan, it’s going to be a great card,” Robinson told BJPenn.Com. “I believe 205 is the right weight for him, he’s a big guy with a big frame and this is where he belongs. His cortisone levels in his body from dropping to 170 weren’t in line anymore. He did so much damage to his body with all of those dramatic weight cuts.
When he tried to cut to 185 his body stopped sweating once he reached a certain weight. After his last fight against Branch we sat down and had a discussion. Anthony is such a respectful person, he really listens and we agreed that 205 was the right weight for him. He just wants to fight and be happy. He’s a naturally gifted athlete and this is where he will be most comfortable.”
Now that Johnson isn’t putting his body through the ringer anymore and causing unnecessary damage he should be able to live up to the potential that many first saw when he made his UFC debut back in 2007. Just how well his body responds to the added weight will have to be seen once he steps inside the cage, but according to Robinson, Johnson is better than ever before.
“His strength is better than it ever has been,” Robinson said. “He looks just as good as he did when he fought as a welterweight. If anything he is going to be stronger because he’s not depriving his body of all the necessary nutrients and minerals the way he was before. I watched him go through five, five minute rounds without even breathing hard. His cardio is off the charts, he runs a lot while he is training and even runs on his own time. His work ethic is really strong; I haven’t seen anything but improvements in his all-around game since we made this decision.”
Johnson will be competing for Titan for the second time against a man who used to compete as a super heavyweight. Titan’s ownership is anxious to get AJ on track and believes that this fight on Friday night will have everyone excited about his future. Titan is the perfect home for Johnson right now and he is looking to reward them for their support.
“He enjoys fighting for Titan, Joe Kelly is a great man and took a liking to Anthony,” offered Robinson. “Kelly is one of those guys who partners with the fighters and listens to what their needs are. Titan is matching him up with opponents that will make for a good fight. Esteves Jones is a former King of the Cage Super Heavyweight Champion who is going to bring the fight to Anthony. Stylistically this is a good match-up for Anthony. Jones is mainly a brawler and has an 8-3 record fighting for various promotions throughout the United States.”
The Balckzilians house a bevy of great fighters in a variety of weight classes. Their head coach is Mario Sperry who is assisted by a strong staff of top notch trainers and instructors. Johnson is getting tested day in and day out by fighters who are accustomed to fighting in the higher weight classes.
“AJ spends a lot of time working with his stand-up coach Henri Hooft, they are very close,” Robinson stated. “When it comes time to sparring he has been spending a lot of time with Alistair Overeem, Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans when he is not commentating for Fox. Johnson also spends time working with Dion Starring who just signed with Strikeforce. He’s putting in a lot of work with these guys and has looked really good throughout this camp.”
Evans left Greg Jackson’s camp because he felt disrespected by Jon Jones and Jackson when Jones said he would face Evans if the UFC offered him the fight. Although we are a long way away from the possibility coming about, Robinson discussed the potential of his guys having to fight one another.
“This is a business and at the end of the day we are trying to help all our fighters win a title,” admitted Robinson. “If two people have to cross paths we would have to be neutral in the camp and have a beer afterwards. We can’t prohibit one fighter from trying to reach his goals over another fighter. It’s a tough situation where you don’t want to see teammates fight, but the reality of the situation is if we build a bunch of great fighters they are going to cross paths. We’ll deal with that situation when the time comes. We would never deprive any of our guys from trying to reach their goals.”
In the past a lot of fighters have told stories of how they were ripped off and taken advantage of by their managers. Robinson is a man who lives his life to improve the lives of his fighters. He has forged a family atmosphere in South Florida and became emotional when he spoke about his relationship with Joshnon.
“This camp means a lot to me and it’s not about money, I just want to see all our guys win,” said an excited Robinson. “I want to see Braulio Estima have the best MMA debut possible. He is just amazing on the ground, I call it Brazilian ballet! Anthony and I have been together a long time and he was one of the first guys who believed in the team and believed in me. He moved his wife to Florida from California and I desperately want to see all of our guys win, I love all of them, but my bond with Anthony is extraordinarily strong. I love that kid and I want to see him achieve his goals in MMA and in life.”
After the fiasco at UFC 142, UFC President Dana White wasted little time in releasing Johnson. If history has shown us anything it can tell you that White is a forgiving man and will bring a fighter back if he feels they have learned from their mistakes.
“Dana is the type of guy who gets upset when someone does something wrong,” Robinson said. “The promotion was hurt by what happened with Anthony and as a businessman I understand it. AJ has to prove himself to them and when that time comes we will make a call and hopefully they will be receptive. Right now we aren’t trying to look too far ahead because I believe in Karma and I believe if you look too far ahead you forget where you are today. We are concentrating on his fight on Friday and when AJ gets to a point where he feels comfortable at this weight class we’ll reach out the UFC.”
Physically he is peaking; he has great teammates, a strong group of coaches and a manager who loves him unconditionally. Going into his fight with Jones, Johnson is right where he needs to be in all walks of life.
“Right now Johnson is in a very good place, we talk every night and he’s in a great frame of mind,” Robinson assessed. “He’s in a great mood, he feels very good, very strong and very confident in his abilities. He had a couple of months in the past year where he wasn’t in great spirits, but right now he is in a very good place and really looking forward to this fight.”Tags: alistair overeem, Anthony Johnson, authentic sports management, Dana White, featured, Glenn Robinson, Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, Titan Fighting Championships, ufc, ufc 142, Vitor Belfort