Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson couldn’t have asked for a much sterner test ahead of his first outing in the cage in more than four years.
Former UFC world title challenger Johnson will open the latest chapter of his MMA career on Bellator’s May 7 card when he takes on fellow UFC refugee Yoel Romero as part of the promotion’s light heavyweight grand prix. It is a showdown which has MMA fans licking their lips, as both men are counted among the sport’s heaviest hitters — and Johnson says that most likely the judges won’t be required in the fight scheduled for five rounds, but if it goes into those deep waters he will be ready.
“Everybody wants three rounds. Who wants five rounds?” Johnson said to MMA Junkie. “That’s 25 minutes of fighting. I’d take 15 over 25 any day, but I’m ready for it. My fights don’t usually last five rounds. It’s either me or them, and that’s fine with me. I don’t like leaving anything to the judges at all. But five rounds, if that’s what it has to be, that’s what it has to be.
“I’ve heard that number so many times during my fights for main events and stuff like that. I trained for five rounds. If it doesn’t go five rounds, perfect. Win or lose, perfect, but if it goes five rounds, I’m not worried about it. I have been training hard for this whole entire situation that I’m about to be in May 7.”
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Johnson vs. Romero, though, has all the ingredients for a potential firefight and Johnson says that he is only too aware of the dangers that the Cuban former Olympic wrestler will pose.
“Yoel is very tricky,” he explained. “He’s an explosive fighter, one of the most explosive fighters I’ve seen. He can wrestle his butt off and can knock you out, too. We’ve seen it in a couple of different fights, so I have to be very aware of whatever he presents to me. So I just gotta do me. I’m not really worried about what he can do. I focus on myself and sharpening my tools, and they have to adjust.
“You have to adjust regardless in a fight because everybody does something different and just because it looks similar in practice does not necessarily mean it’s gonna be like that during the fight. I’m just looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m ready to go out there and see what happens, see if the 37-year-old still got it. Even though he’s older than me, he still has it. I think he’s a superior athlete. I have nothing bad to say about him because he is a great athlete, and he’s a fighter, and I respect all fighters.”