Anthony “Rumble” Johnson explains why he turned down ‘risky’ interim title fight with Gegard Mousasi

Anthony Johnson

If Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had his way, he’d be fighting Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 206 on December 10. Unfortunately for him, Cormier was forced to withdraw from this bout with a groin injury.

In the wake of Cormier’s withdrawal from the card, the UFC tried valiantly to find a replacement opponent for Rumble. The most suitable option they could fish out of the small pool of fighters who were willing to fight a monster like Rumble on just a few weeks notice, was the UFC’s fifth ranked middleweight, Gegard Mousasi.

Given that Mousasi has competed at light heavyweight many times in the past – and even won the light heavyweight crown during his days under the Strikeforce banner – this was a pretty interesting replacement fight for Rumble. Regrettably, the risk was not worth the reward for the top light heavyweight contender, and so he turned the fight down, which meant his removal from the UFC 206 bill altogether.

Gegard Mousasi

In a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Rumble explained his choice to turn down this proposed fight with Mousasi.

“When Gegard was presented to me, it would’ve been a good fight, but it wouldn’t have done anything for me,” he said. “Fighting him and becoming the interim champion, as much trash as I’ve talked and [Cormier] has talked about interim titles being fake champions, if I would have beat him, it wouldn’t mean anything.”

“And if I had lost, I would have to start from scratch,” he continued. “It was just too risky.”

With Cormier and Rumble off the UFC 206 lineup, the card’s headlining honors will now go to Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis. The two talents will meet in a five-round interim featherweight title bout. The winner of this compelling battle is likely to fight new undisputed featherweight champion Jose Aldo sometime in the new year.

Would you have been interested in a Rumble vs. Mousasi bout? Who do you think would have come out on top in this fight? Sound off, PENN Nation!