After news surfaced earlier this week that UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier had been forced out of his UFC 206 scrap with Anthony Johnson just two weeks before the fight due to torn adductor in his groin, the UFC began to search for a replacement opponent for ‘Rumble’.
The process was guaranteed to be a difficult one, given that Johnson had not only defeated, but knocked out everyone in the top 5 of the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
One of the first men to offer to step in and fight Johnson on short notice was MMA veteran and top ranked middleweight Gegard Mousasi, who is coming off a 1st round TKO win over Uriah Hall last weekend. The win over Hall made it 4-straight for Mousasi over the course of 2016, and made it 3-straight KO/TKO wins for the dynamic middleweight.
According to Ariel Helwani however, Johnson had no interest in fighting mousasi, and is opting to sit out and wait for Cormier to heal and return to the Octagon, which is expected to be in March.
Re: 206, early plan was to do Rumble-Mousasi, but I'm told Rumble wasn't interested and wants to wait for DC. As of now, he's opponent-less.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 26, 2016
In addition to Gegard Mousasi, middleweight Tim Kennedy was also campaigning for a shot at Johnson, reportedly working behind the scenes to secure the short notice fight after his UFC 206 fight with Rashad Evans was cancelled when Evans was unable to attain a license to fight in Toronto.
— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) November 26, 2016
With that being said, it appears as though the UFC has opted to pull Johnson from the card given the news that the co-main event bout between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis has been promoted to the main event, and is now for the interim featherweight title.