It's time to move on for Anthony Johnson.
The 28-year-old former UFC fighter has officially announced his new home and his permanent weight class, signing with Titan Fighting Championship. He will debut on their May 25 event in Kansas City, he told MMA Fighting on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
Though Johnson doesn't yet have an opponent finalized, it's phase one of his plan to return to the UFC.
"I'm going to fight a few times and eventually come back," he said. "There's a time for everything and right now just isn't my time to be with the UFC. But when my time comes again, if that's what UFC wants, you know I'm there."
Johnson (10-4) was released after UFC 142. That was supposed to be his debut as a middleweight after having competed his entire career at welterweight, but he missed the mark badly, checking in at 197 pounds and forcing a catch weight bout against Vitor Belfort.
Belfort won by rear naked choke submission in the first.
In his first extended interview since that day, Johnson declined to detail the exact nature of the issue that led to his weigh-cutting difficulty but said it was due to a medical condition that happened during the day of weigh-ins. He said that his legs "stopped working" and was eventually directed not to continue with his cut. At that point, he says, he was just 1.5 pound away from making weight.
"Some things just weren’t clicking like they were supposed to click," he said. "You obviously saw the result so by me missing weight and stuff, but I’m not living off that. It's still fresh in my mind. That time period in my life is a big letdown because I let myself down more than I let anyone else down. I remember every single day of that week and how it was just not a good week. But it’s over with now. That was in January, this is March. I’m not worried about it anymore, I've just got to keep looking forward."
Johnson said he never considered withdrawing from the fight despite his difficulty, saying he would never pull out of a fight so close to its date.
He also noted that he has no ill feelings towards the UFC for letting him go.
"As far as if it was fair, life isn’t fair sometimes," he said. "You've got to roll with the punches. Either you can sit on your ass and cry about it or get up and do something. And I’m not going to just sit around boo-hooing and not do anything."
The other part of the equation came from the disappointment of the fans, many of whom slammed Johnson for his history of weigh-in difficulties. Johnson said that while he felt bad for missing weight, he's ignored most of that criticism while focusing on the future.
"People can say what they want to say," he said. "I don't care. I’m still going to be me, I’m still going to fight hard, I'm still going to do the best I can. So what am I supposed to say? Am I supposed to pay attention to those people?"
Making weight should help quiet some of the criticism, and going forward, Johnson should have more success there. He said that he's left welterweight behind for good and middleweight is now his exclusive home, and noted that he's currently between 210-215 pounds.
As far as his next bout, though he has no one lined up and said a few fighters have accepted the fight and then backed out, he expects someone to step up and agree to face him soon. Johnson wouldn't name those fighters, but said the talent pool outside the UFC should generate quality opposition.
"There’s tons of talent outside of UFC," he said. "Of course UFC is where everybody wants to be. It's the Super Bowl of MMA, like everybody says. There's talent outside of UFC of course but we’ll see. Someone is eventually going to say they'll fight me and take a chance. That’s what life’s about, taking chances."