Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson may well be closing in on a UFC light heavyweight title shot early in 2015, but there’s at least one heavyweight fight in the UFC that would capture his attention. And he believes it would do 205lb champion Jon Jones a favour in the process.
The Blackzilians standout, revitalised and riding a eight-fight win week after moving up to 205lb, admits he wasn't shocked to learn Jones had withdrawn from his next title defense against Daniel Cormier due to injury this week, especially upon hearing Alistair Overeem was training with him at the time.
Johnson insists he watched ’The Reem’ bully and hurt plenty of teammates during his short spell with the Florida-based Blackzilians and explained how he would like nothing more than to knockout the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion inside the Octagon.
Speaking exclusively to Fighters Only, Rumble said about Jones' withdrawal: “None of what's happened surprised me. People get hurt, especially when it's a big fight coming up. Whenever it’s the biggest fight of their careers people pick up injuries, that's just the way things go. What did surprise me was reading in the media that it was Alistair Overeem that had hurt him.
"That kind of shocked me because he used to be a teammate of mine. Well, actually, not a teammate, but he used to be over here. And he did some things here that were like that. But I didn't think he'd take that into Greg Jackson's gym. Not the stuff that happened anywhere else. So that shocked me.
"I just figured when I first heard he was hurt that it was an accident with one of his usual training partners, not some one who's just come in and has hurt him. Greg Jackson says it wasn't on purpose, but I know the man and when he was here he was always hurting somebody. Accidentally on purpose. And it ain't because he's clumsy, he ain't clumsy, he would just hurt you.
"I've seen the guy do it. I've seen him basically bullying and stuff. Now I can't speak on what happened with him and Jon because I wasn't there. They could have been training like pro athletes and really just pushing each other and a freak accident happens. And I hope Jon recovers and comes back stronger. But if it really wasn't an accident, then I feel sorry for Jon and I hope he recovers regardless. But when Overeem is involved, it is what it is.”
With Jones and Cormier now locked in for the New Year, and leading contender Alexander Gustafsson eager to wait it out for his shot at the championship belt, Johnson admits a move up to heavyweight would appeal to him. Especially if Overeem’s name was involved.
“If Joe Silva called me up and offered me that fight, yeah, I'd take that and knock his head off,” Johnson adds. "I would take that fight immediately, without hesitation. And that’s not because I see my long term future at heavyweight either. Not really. But before I retire – which I don't plan on doing any time soon either – I do plan on fighting at heavyweight a couple of times.
“And, well, right now, Alistair Overeem is the right guy (laughs). I'd love to knock him out. And I’d do it with a big smile on my face too.”