LAS VEGAS -- Anthony Johnson has more controversy on his hands.
An online petition that came to light this week accuses Johnson of abusing dogs and asks the UFC to release him because of it. On Thursday at UFC 191 media day, Johnson denied the allegations, but admitted to the practice of cropping his dogs' ears. The petition was filed four months ago.
"My dogs are well liked and well loved," Johnson said. "I take my dogs everywhere. Somebody put I'm manipulating my dogs. Dude, I cropped his ears. I'm not beating the dog, I'm not starving the dog to death. Nothing like that. I definitely laugh at things like that, because everybody that knows me -- even if you don't know me and look at my Instagram, look at my Facebook and stuff -- you can tell I love my dogs."
The practice of cropping a dog's ears is a controversial one. It is illegal throughout Europe, but not in the United States. The American Kennel Club accepts it as a practice because it is "integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health." However, veterinarians oppose it when it is done solely for cosmetic purposes. Johnson owns a kennel business called Rumbletime Kennels.
"I'm not what the media tries to make me out to be, but I am who I am," Johnsons aid. "That whole kennel thing, that's not even my dog and people want to make it sound like it's my dog. But I do crop my dog's ears. At the same time, they want to talk about dogs with cropped ears, they need to go after everybody. They're just trying to target me just because."
Johnson, 31, meets Jimi Manuwa on Saturday at UFC 191 here at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The South Florida resident was under investigation by the UFC in recent weeks following an incident with a woman at his gym.
Johnson allegedly pulled a yoga mat from under a woman and threw it, because the woman was stretching too close to where people were lifting weights. "Rumble" wrote about the situation angrily on Facebook and said the woman was "built like a bag of dry dog food." Johnson apologized a day later. A week after that, the UFC said Johnson would attend counseling and donate money to a women's charity.
The whole situation came under extra scrutiny, because Johnson has been accused of domestic violence three times by three separate women. He was suspended by the UFC last year after a woman claiming to be the mother of his children accused him of domestic abuse. In 2010, Johnson pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in California.
Johnson has denied wrongdoing in those situations. And, in this instance, he is adamant that he loves his dogs. "Rumble" has been involved in anti-dog fighting charities in the past.
"I don't care," Johnson said. "If you see my Instagram or my kennel Instagram -- Facebook and all that stuff with my dogs -- you can clearly tell my dogs are loved. They eat steaks every day. I eat freakin' French fries. They eat steaks.
"I'm not worried about all that. If they want to go after my dogs, that's fine. My dogs will sit there and look at them and smile at them if anything, with their tongues out. If they want to go after my dogs, go ahead."