For the past seven months, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has advertised his willingness to come out of retirement to fight Jon Jones at heavyweight.
Those notices were always attached to one requirement: the fight must take place at heavyweight. But on Monday, Johnson told the “Below the Belt” podcast he might be able to fight at 205 pounds.
One day later, the UFC light heavyweight champ finally said game on.
You better make sure you have that cardio together big fella @Anthony_Rumble— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 15, 2019
We’ve always been cool but I’ll be more than happy to choke you out if that’s what you’re looking for. @Anthony_Rumble— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 15, 2019
It is true that Jones and Johnson have been cool, even as they fought for the same glory in the UFC light heavyweight division while Johnson was still an active fighter. Prior to a scheduled fight at UFC 187, they faked a brawl that nearly gave UFC President Dana White a heart attack.
That prank was one month before Jones crashed his car into a pregnant woman – breaking her arm – and then fled the scene, but not before grabbing a wad of cash. He eventually turned himself into police and was charged with hit-and-run. A plea agreement allowed him to avoid jail time, but the UFC still stripped him of the light heavyweight title.
Johnson twice vied for that belt against Jones’ bitter rival Daniel Cormier, and twice he fell short. After a bizarre showing in the rematch, where he ignored his corner’s advice and tried to outwrestle the Olympic wrestler, he retired from competition.
Since then, Johnson has turned his attention to bodybuilding and marijuana. He’s found success in both, though his name hasn’t been absent from the headlines.
At a media day for Dominance MMA management, Johnson told MMAFighting he was interested in taking on heavyweight Francis Ngannou for a comeback originally targeted for March 2020.
Jones, who recaptured the belt a second time at UFC 232, remains unscheduled after outpointing Thiago Santos in July. He’s in the headlines more for teammate drama and Twitter use than fighting.
The matchup is a sure thing for fans who’ve followed the ups and downs of both mens’ careers. Only the UFC can stand in the way of making it happen four years after its original booking.