Last month, in front of a hostile crowd in Stockholm, Sweden, Anthony Johnson earned the biggest victory of his professional career when he upset former title challenger and local star Alexander Gustafsson in the opening round of their main event contest.
For Johnson, the win was the direct result of his earlier tribulations, and a testament to the hard work he dedicated himself to over the past few years. Yet, for all the relief and satisfaction that he felt immediately following the win, there was a tinge of sadness blended in with his happiness.
"I did (feel sad) because, I mean, we all knew what the deal was before the fight," he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "(Gustafsson) was supposed to have his title shot and then he got injured, and then Jon and DC [Daniel Cormier] had their beef going on, so they let that fight continue, even though I think DC got hurt. And Alex should have had his title shot back then. It should have been Alex fighting instead of DC. But this is the UFC. This is their business so, they can do what they have to do. It's Zuffa."
While Johnson understands that winning always comes at the expense of the opposition, he could not help but empathize with Gustafsson, whom he believes earned his title shot well before their fight in Stockholm.
"It just seems like he's been through Hell and back to get his rematch for a title, and he just didn't get his opportunity again. I mean, I felt bad for him. So when he was crying, to me that's what was going through my head. I was like damn, his dreams just got shot to hell. I just felt bad about it."
Transcription taken from MMAFighting.com.