Most, if not all fighters aspire to be signed to the UFC and to win one of their prestigious belts. Those that have made it to the roster fight tooth and nail to get there, but occasionally have difficulty maintaining their spot.
Pink slips make for a tough pill to swallow, but shouldn't be considered the end of a UFC career. Fortunately, there is a revolving door policy, and for those that make the most of their time away, the welcome mat is always out.
It's been just two years since Anthony Johnson was released from the UFC, but the time away was put to good use in fine tuning his skills and getting a better understanding of the weight he is best suited to fight at. He's racked up six impressive wins with four of them coming by way of knockout. As a result, the UFC re-signed him this week and booked him to face Phil Davis for the 172 card.
Bloody Elbow spoke with Anthony yesterday about his re-entry to the roster, his upcoming bout with Davis and whether we'll see him at Heavyweight any time soon. Here's what he had to say:
The Welcoming Committee
There was just so much talk about where I was going to go after the fight, but I hadn't put much thought into it myself. I went to the last UFC, and my manager and Joe Silva were eating at a table and I was at another table with my teammate, Abel Trujillo. My manager called me over and was like, ‘Welcome back to the UFC.' I just shook my head and stayed calm. I had to make sure I seemed like I was hard and all that. I had to mean mug and stuff [laughs]. I had to get my serious face on. I looked at Joe Silva and shook his hand. He had this big smile on his face, and I couldn't help myself and smiled back. I thanked him and just thought how blessed I am. I'm feeling more blessed than excited. I've been putting in the work and I'm dedicated and it's paid off for me. I'm blessed to be back where I used to be, in my original home with the UFC.
PPV and Name Recognition
I'm not making that PPV money, but hopefully, one day I will. Right now, I'm so glad to be in the mix and give fans something to look forward to. I come to fight, and I think that's key to making sure my fights aren't boring. I just want to make sure that people know who this new guy is. The best way for me to do that is to keep training hard and fighting hard. I want to keep improving so that I keep people guessing about what I'm going to do.
Henri is the man. We love him and have nothing but respect for him. If Henri goes to battle, then we go to battle, too. He's more than just a coach, he's family. He knows he can count on us as family to be there for him. We know we can count on him. Whenever something goes wrong, we go to him first, to get his wisdom and thoughts. He gives us a path and we follow it. Glenn (Robinson) is like the godfather or the don, but if something ever happened and he wasn't around for us, we would go to Henri and he would guide us on what to do and what the next step would be.
They haven't said anything to me or laid out any specific guidelines. They haven't brought up anything from the past. I just have to remain dedicated and focused and not buckle under the pressure that I put on myself because of the screw-ups that I've had in the past.
He's a beast and a workhorse. I mean, look at him, he's like Mr. America. I'm excited to see what I can do against him and what he can do against me. I feel like his weakness is in his stand-up, but he makes up for that with awesome wrestling.
Those guys are really cool, Ali and Ray and everyone over there. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and they treated me very well. I talked to them and let them know that my decision was to better my future. I didn't want them to feel like I was using them. They understood and told me that they were glad to have me a part of the family. They told me they'd miss me, but to go get that strap. They for sure have love for me and have my back.
Place in the LHW Division
I see myself right there with everybody else. I do believe there's that Number One contender, but after that, I think everybody's on the same level. If you don't have that belt, or the next crack at it, the playing field is level. The rankings and all that hype that comes along, I don't believe in it.
Fighting at Heavyweight
I want to focus on 205, but I'll tell you this, if they try to force me to fight one of my teammates, I'll just go up in weight. I just don't believe in fighting your brothers. We train together day in and day out at the gym. Money is important, but family is too. No matter what the consequences are, I'll never fight my teammates because they are my family. If Rashad (Evans) was the champ and I was the Number One contender, and they tried to make that fight, I'd just move up to heavy. I'll tell that to anybody, any organization, any time, anywhere.
You can follow Anthony via his Twitter account @Anthony_Rumble