Anthony Johnson was supposed to be fighting light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in the UFC 206 main event, but Cormier had to pull out with a groin injury. Johnson has chosen to wait for Cormier to heal up — he’s expected to be out until February or March — instead of taking on a late replacement.
Middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi offered to fight Rumble on short notice, and the UFC was willing to book that fight for an interim title. Johnson turned the fight down, and he explained his reason to Ariel Helwani on the newest episode of The MMA Hour.
"When Gegard was presented to me, it would’ve been a good fight, but it wouldn’t have done anything for me," Johnson said. "Fighting him and becoming the interim champion, as much trash as I’ve talked and ‘DC’ has talked about interim titles being fake champions, if I would have beat him, it wouldn’t mean anything."
"And if I had lost, I would have to start from scratch. It was just too risky."
(Transcription by MMA Mania)
Mousasi (41-6-2) is coming off a 1st round TKO of Uriah Hall at UFC Belfast just 10 days ago. He’s a perfect 4-0 in 2016 and is still willing to compete on the card against Tim Kennedy, should the proposed Kennedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum fight fall through. Of course, Mousasi has plenty of credentials at light heavyweight, having previously held the Strikeforce and DREAM belts.
You can watch Johnson’s interview on The MMA Hour at the top of the page, starting at the 2:53:40 mark of the video.