As many of our readers know, I've been doing a series of interviews on the Blackzilian camp. Over the last year and a half, they've added a multitude of elite level talent, and have been working towards becoming the premiere camp on the MMA landscape. With a built in management company, PR firm, fighter housing and the best trainers in all the relevant martial arts disciplines, the Blackzilians is basically a one stop shop for the athlete looking to make their mark on the sport. In this latest chapter, I interviewed newly minted light heavyweight, Anthony Johnson, fresh off his victorious debut at this new weight class, and got his thoughts on the upcoming fight with Jake Rosholt, adapting to 205 and what he thinks of Jon Jones.
Stephie Daniels: Would it be fair to say that physical changes in your body due to age maturity is what made it become more difficult to make 170 and 185?
Anthony Johnson: Yeah. My body just matured more, and I started packing on more muscle, and it just got harder and harder, day by day, to lose the weight. After not making 185, the lightbulb came on over my head, and I knew it was time to do something different. I'm happy with the decision I made.
Stephie Daniels: How much of a relief is it to not have to focus so much time and energy into torturing your body with extreme weight cuts?
Anthony Johnson: Now I can smile. I mean, I smile anyways, when I'm around my team and my family, but now I'm smiling just to smile. It's wonderful being able to eat and train how I want, without having limits or having to worry what this or that will do to me. I'm finally happy, and definitely where I need to be at right now.
Stephie Daniels: Does it ever bother you that so many MMA fans turned on you when you had troubles making weight?
Anthony Johnson: It didn't surprise me at all or bother me, because people are going to say what they're going to say, no matter what. I don't let people that don't really know me, get to me. They can say what they want. They can think what they want. They weren't there. They're not my coaches. They're not on my team, or part of my family, so their opinions didn't really matter to me. I just took it with a grain of salt and kept moving forward.
People have a right to their opinions. When you're on the outside looking in, you don't know everything that's going on. I just let them say whatever they wanted to say, and strived to prove them wrong. I actually used some of the things they said as motivation to be better.
Stephie Daniels: Do you feel like you've realized your potential more since being with the Blackzilian camp?
Anthony Johnson: First of all, without Glenn Robinson and Authentic Sports Management, I wouldn't be where I am right now. Glenn has helped me out, through thick and thin, since the beginning. He doesn't have an easy job. He does this more out of the kindness of his heart than anything else. He wants to see us all succeed. We all take that very seriously, and train hard. We do all we can for Glenn, because we owe everything to him.
We have great coaches and an awesome team. Everybody pushes each other, and we love each other like family. This is the best team that I've ever been on, with the caliber of fighters, and so many different styles in there. These guys just want to train and fight and win. Having guys like that around me, that makes me want to fight and continue to win. They help make me a better fighter.
Stephie Daniels: Right after your last fight, you said something to the effect that this was your first outing at 205, and to be patient, because hitting your groove at the new weight wasn't going to be immediate. It was a very humble thing to say, despite the fact that you had just had a dominant win. Obviously, your ultimate goal would be to get back to the UFC, but what are your thoughts on the light heavyweight competition outside of the UFC?
Anthony Johnson: The competition is tough, no matter what organization you go to. Everybody kind of overlooks the smaller promotions, because the UFC is so big, it overshadows everyone else, but there are some really good fighters out there. Nothing really compares to the UFC, honestly, but if you look hard enough, there is some legit talent outside of it.
Stephie Daniels: You have a fight with with Jake Rosholt on the
29th for the XFC promotion 21st for Xtreme Fight Night with the XFL promotion. Where do you think your biggest advantage will be against him?
Anthony Johnson: Everything.
Stephie Daniels: Do you think he has any weapons that you really need to watch out for?
Anthony Johnson: No, because with the guys that I train with, they make sure I'm ready for everything. I've got the best wrestling coach. I've got the best jiu jitsu coach. I've got the best striking coach. I've got the best team in the world. What is there for me to be worried about? That's not me being cocky, either. It's me being confident in my ability, my coaches and my team.
Working with Mario Sperry is amazing. He's not only a great coach, he's a great motivator. I hate jiu jitsu, but he makes me want to go out there and throw a triangle on somebody. I'm not good at it, but I'll damned sure try now, because Mario is in my corner. We have Babak at the gym as our wrestling coach, and his wrestling is beyond belief. His wrestling knowledge and techniques are so good. I'm confident that I can overcome any position I could possibly be in for this fight.
Stephie Daniels: I've heard about 'Meat Day', which is basically, full contact sparring with no head gear that typically happens on Friday nights at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center. How far out do you stop participating in Meat Day?
Anthony Johnson: The week before [laughs]. I'm training until Friday, one week out. I go in and spar just as hard, so I can get that last one in, then I call it quits. We do it on two days, though, Mondays and Fridays, and we go hard, but Fridays are only for 30 minutes.
Stephie Daniels: If you secure the win over Jake, how many more fights at 205 do you think you'll need before making a bid to get back into the UFC?
Anthony Johnson: I think I'm ready now. They should have called me when Dan Henderson got hurt. I would have taken that fight, no problem. I wouldn't have said no. I'll fight anybody. It doesn't matter when or where. They could throw me in with Joe Shmo, and I would fight him. It doesn't matter to me.
Stephie Daniels: What did you think of the 151 debacle, and more specifically, Jon Jones' decision to not fight Chael Sonnen on eight days notice?
Anthony Johnson: So many guys want to be champions, and they train and pray and damn near die to get in the position that he's in. When you get to that position, you're not supposed to say 'No' to competition. You're the champion for a reason. You're supposed to say, 'Ok, let's do it. I accept every challenge there is out there.' Who cares if it was eight days notice. You're supposed to be well prepared for everything, no matter what. That showed me that he wasn't prepared. He wasn't ready for whatever was going to be thrown at him. I personally think he was a little confused and shaken up by the whole situation, and seeing how Chael has great cardio, and continually moves forward, I think that worried Jon. Chael comes to fight. He doesn't play around. It is what it is, and only Jon and his trainers really know why they made that decision.
You can follow Anthony via his Twitter, @Anthony_Rumble