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Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson Reportedly Leaves UFC, Signs Bellator Contract

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2020

Anthony Johnson is pushed away by referee Herb Dean after beating Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by technical knockout during a light heavyweight mixed martial arts bout at a UFC on Fox event in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, July 26, 2014. Johnson won by technical knockout. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, who announced plans to return to action in 2019 two years after retiring, is reportedly leaving the UFC for Bellator.

According to ESPN's Ariel Helwani, Johnson plans to sign a contract with Bellator "imminently" and will fight as a light heavyweight beginning in 2021's first half.

Johnson, 36, last fought in April 2017 when he lost to Daniel Cormier by second-round submission at UFC 210.

That bout against Cormier was for the UFC light heavyweight championship, and it marked one of only two UFC title fights Johnson received.

The first was for the vacant light heavyweight title at UFC 187 in 2015, but Johnson lost that fight as well when Cormier submitted him in the third round.

Overall, Johnson owns a professional record of 22-6 with an impressive 16 knockout victories.

He enjoyed two stints in the UFC, going 7-4 during his first run before spending time in other promotions, including World Series of Fighting. Johnson returned to the the UFC in 2014 and was largely dominant.

Aside from the two losses to Cormier, Johnson won all of his fights during his second UFC stint, which included victories over Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and others.

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Johnson has won 12 of his past 14 fights, and although it has been more than three years since he last stepped inside the cage, he is a significant signing for Bellator because of his resume and name recognition.

Vadim Nemkov became the Bellator light heavyweight champion after he beat former Johnson foe Ryan Bader for the title at Bellator 244 in August.

The 28-year-old Nemkov is 12-2 and has won each of his past seven fights, making him one of the fastest-rising stars in MMA.

Johnson vs. Nemkov could be a major draw for Bellator, and if Johnson shows he hasn't lost a step, it may not be long before he is granted a title opportunity.

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