Three years ago, who would have thought that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson will one day face the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world for the prestigious UFC light-heavyweight belt? Certainly not himself.
Back then, the 6′ 2” Johnson was starving himself down to the welterweight limit and got released by the UFC after repeatedly missing weight and collecting losses. Now, at 205 lbs., he is revamped and better than ever before – and just scored the biggest victory of his career, a first-round TKO over Alexander Gustafsson, in the main event of UFC on FOX 14: Gustafsson vs. Johnson. He will now face Jon Jones for the title.
“It just didn’t seem real,” Johnson commented on this big win at the post-fight press conference on Saturday.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just beat the guy who, in my opinion, beat Jon Jones.’ So I was really in a state of shock. Nobody’s ever stopped Alexander before like that, so I was just… speechless, really.”
A counter-right hand by “Rumble” rocked Gustafsson midway through the first round. Johnson smelled blood and immediately went for the finish, pressuring the Swede to the mat and finishing him off there with severe ground and pound from side control.
“I heard his corner say ‘front push kick’, and I’m a kickboxer, so I heard it and I know what I do whenever somebody does something like that, I know how to counter it. It was just perfect timing. When they said ‘front push kick’, I was like, alright, go ahead. And boom.”
Gustafsson left the Octagon in tears. A win over Johnson would have earned him another shot at 205-pound kingpin Jones. A rematch, that the whole world waited to see, after their blockbuster first fight in 2013. Now, Johnson will get the spot, but feels bad for his defeated opponent and said:
“Alex had a goal. I felt really bad. I saw him crying and I know how it is whenever you have a goal and something gets in the way and basically sidetracks you, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve felt this pain before, so I just, I don’t know — I guess I’m human, so I just felt bad for, I can’t say ending his goal, but he didn’t reach his goal tonight. And I’m sure he’ll be back 10 times harder next go-round.”
(Transcription taken from mmafighting.com)
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