It has been over 4 years since we last saw Anthony “Rumble” Johnson compete in MMA and ever since, fans have been speculating about how he would fair if he returned. This May we will finally get the answers we are looking for. in a recent post on Mike Bohn’s Twitter, he shared a picture of Rumble appearing to be in incredible shape, prompting fans to ask – “Could this be the best version we have to see of Anthony Johnson?”
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) April 20, 2021
As we all know by this point, Rumble signed with Bellator back in December and was put straight into their light-heavyweight Grand Prix where he will first take on fellow former UFC star, Yoel Romero. The fight will mark Rumble’s first MMA bout since his title loss to then UFC light-heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, back in 2017 in what was a hugely anticipated rematch. Before his loss to Cormier, Rumble was on a 3 fight winning streak including a 13 second KO of current UFC title challenger Glover Texeira as well as a first-round stoppage of current Bellator Heavyweight and former light-heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. Following the loss to Cormier, in an extremely emotional post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Rumble would call on his Coaches to enter the cage before shockingly announcing that this would be his last fight. This caught many off guards as, besides the losses to Cormier, he had beaten everyone who had been put in front of him since 2012.
Leaving the sport when he was among the very top of the division is one of the big factors in the excitement of his return. Can he pick back up where he left off and become a serious threat to the title and possibly even champion? Or will the 4 years lay off show when he steps into the cage? For many, returning to fight at the age of 37 would seem like a crazy thing to do, but when you consider not only his clear peak physical condition as well as some of the other names of similar ages still at the top of the sport, for example Stephen Thompson, Stipe Miocic and even Rumble’s next opponent, Yoel Romero who himself is 43.
If there was still any doubt as to whether Rumble has the ability to compete at the highest level, you need only look as far as his grappling bouts in both Quintet and Submission Underground, which he may not have had a long list of victories in, he has shown he can hang with some of the strongest grapplers around, most recently taking Ryan Bader all the way to overtime at Submission Underground 19, only losing by quickest escape.
There is only one way to know whether or not Rumble can still compete at the highest level of MMA and that is by watching his upcoming bout with Romero. But there can be no doubt that a big win over someone as tough as Yoel Romero would be a huge statement to the Bellator light-heavyweight division and an amazing way to mark his return to the sport.