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Anthony Johnson reveals next step in his career after UFC retirement

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UFC 210 photos
Anthony Johnson leaves the UFC cage, perhaps for the final time, at UFC 210 last month.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Greener pastures, indeed.

Anthony Johnson, for the first time, revealed the industry that he is leaving MMA for in a radio show interview this weekend. And it certainly sounds like it’s the marijuana business.

“We’re opening up a facility, if you know what I mean,” Johnson told former WWE star Booker T on his “Heated Conversations" show. “It’s for medical uses. … We got some good things going on. It’s already big. We're just waiting for that law to pass and whenever it passes, we’re golden. We're playing our cards right, we're playing by the book, so that way there’s no issue."

That seems to be the opportunity Johnson was alluding to when he abruptly and shockingly announced his retirement after a loss to Daniel Cormier in a UFC light heavyweight title fight last month at UFC 210.

But it wasn't the only reason, Johnson said. The slugger known in the MMA world as “Rumble” said his future well-being was the key factor in wanting to step away from the sport.

“My health, man,” Johnson said. “You hear about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and all this other stuff. Head injuries. You’re harming your body playing football and stuff like that, but this stuff can happen just as fast in mixed martial arts as any other sport, because we’re constantly beating on each other. I love myself, you know what I'm saying? A lot of guys don't think about that.”

Johnson, 33, said on the show that he was "never a fighter.” He was just a great athlete, who took to MMA naturally. He feels like he was “meant to do something else, something greater in life.”

Of course, for someone who never felt like a fighter, he was a damn good one — one of the best power punchers of all time, without exaggeration. After giving up an absurd cut to 170 pounds, “Rumble” thrived at 205 and became one of the top fighters in that weight class for three years. In his second run in the UFC, Johnson went 6-2 and lost only to Cormier. All but one of his victories came by some form of knockout.

As excellent as he was, Johnson said his time is now up in MMA.

“If those guys want to go in there and do that to themselves, go ahead, that’s your life, that's your body, that’s your future,” he said. “But for me, I’m destined to do something greater.

“I just couldn’t do it anymore. You gotta go in there and do your thing. You’ve gotta make your money and get out. That's why Conor McGregor is killing it. He’s straight killing it.”

Now, Johnson will attempt to make some money in a field that is booming right now.

“I left on my own terms,” Johnson said. “I left on good terms and I left as one of the best fighters ever in the weight class. I did my job.”

"Rumble" left the door open after UFC 210 for a return to the cage in the future, saying maybe he'd come back to face Jon Jones at heavyweight. But it seems like Johnson has put that out of his mind now.

“That’s not me,” Johnson said. “When I say I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it. I’m finished, man. … I’m not about that life anymore.”

(Correction: The first edition of this story quoted Johnson as saying his friend Paul was “in cannabis.” Because it’s hard to determine exactly what Johnson said clearly in the interview, that part has been removed.)