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Anthony Johnson out of Bellator light heavyweight grand prix and title fight due to illness

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Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Anthony Johnson has lost a couple of big opportunities.

MMA Fighting has confirmed with sources with knowledge of the situation that Johnson will no longer fight Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov on Oct. 16 nor will he continue to compete in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix due to an illness that has forced him to withdraw from the tournament. MMA Junkie was first to report the news.

In a statement on Instagram, Johnson said of the illness that has “never been this afraid of anything in my life,” adding that it is not COVID-19.

Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am. Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God willing... Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.

The accompany caption reads:

Not asking for anything but prayers. See you in 2022 hopefully. This is gonna be a battle and I’m gonna have to dig deeper than I ever have before. Love you all. NOT COVID

Johnson and Nemkov were scheduled to compete in the main event of Bellator 268 in Phoenix. That bout was to serve as one semifinal of the grand prix, with a co-main event bout between Ryan Bader and Corey Anderson serving as the other.

Nemkov’s title is on the line throughout the tournament and he successfully defended it against Phil Davis in the opening round of the grand prix this past April. Should Nemkov remain on the Oct. 16 card, Bellator will have to reach into a pool of alternates that potentially includes Karl Albrektsson and Julius Anglickas.

In his Bellator debut this past May, “Rumble” won his first fight of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix with a second-round knockout of Jose Augusto. Johnson was originally scheduled to fight Yoel Romero, but Romero was not medically cleared to compete.