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Anthony Johnson on title-fight fallouts: There’s ‘a cloud hanging over me’

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Anthony Johnson post-fight
Anthony Johnson

Twice in the past two years, Anthony Johnson has seen planned title fights go awry.

The first instance came last year, when then-UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones got into legal trouble and was pulled from a matchup with the man nicknamed “Rumble.”

And it happened again recently, when his UFC 206 main event with current champion Daniel Cormier fell out due to Cormier’s groin injury.

So it stands to figure that “Rumble” feels like he can’t catch a break.

“In the cage, out of the cage, I’ve always got something going on,” Johnson said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I’ve always got a cloud hanging over me.”

Still, though, Johnson knows this is part of the territory when it comes to a career in the fight game.

“This is just the world we live in when it comes to this sport,” Johnson said. “You’re gonna win some, lose some, and right now I don’t know if this is a win or a loss but I’m just going with the stride you know what I mean?”

This time around, that means staying on the sidelines until Cormier returns. The idea of staying on the UFC 206 card was floated after DC withdrew, specifically an interesting idea of fighting current middleweight and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi.

But Johnson’s only loss in his past 13 fights was to Cormier, who took Jones’ spot at UFC 187 and finished him in the third round. He’s since rebounded for three straight wins and doesn’t see much sense in taking a fight which would have more downside than up.

“Fighting when Gegard was presented to me, it would have been a good fight, but it wouldn’t have been anything for me, you know?” Johnson said. “Fighting him and possibly becoming the interim champion, as much trash as I’ve talked and DC and talking about interim titles and all of that, it’s, you know, the interim champion being the fake champion or whatever you want to call it, if I would have beat him, it wouldn’t mean anything and if I lost, I would have had to start from scratch so it was too risky.”

Cormier’s gym, the American Kickboxing Academy, has come under criticism for the volume of injuries their headline fighters have sustained in training this year. But Johnson, who has been respectful of Cormier throughout the buildup to this fight, refuses to speculate on the training practices of a gym he doesn’t attend, noting instead that AKA has a history of making champions.

“I don’t know, I don’t train over there. They do what they do,” Johnson said. “They have two champions and possibly a third champion on the way with Khabib so obviously they do something right.”

For his part, Johnson, who got the news of DC’s injury on Thanksgiving day, says he was having as close to a flawless camp as you can.

“This is probably the best I’ve ever been, the best I’ve ever been in shape,” Johnson said. “I was in sick shape. I felt great but I was also pushing myself to the point I was slowly feeling my body getting tired. I was pushing myself that hard. I was listening to my body but you know, your body tells you you need a day or two break and I really wasn’t giving myself that type of time off.”

Of course, this being the fight business, there’s always the chance that things could change. What if Cormier takes longer to recover than expected, for instance, and Jones’ suspension ends? Stranger things have happened, and Johnson could end up on the outside looking in despite doing nothing wrong.

But Johnson, while admitting such a scenario would not sit well with him, is not going to waste too much mental energy worrying about what might go wrong as he waits for word on how long it will take Cormier to recover from his injury.

“I’m not worrying about that, because if that happened I’d lose my mind,” Johnson said. “Because I’ve been working my butt off to get myself into the position where I am. If they were to do that, that’s not good showing how much respect they have to me, but it shows you how the business is, they don’t care about what you’ve worked for.

“I do believe UFC will treat me fair and do what’s right.”