Anthony “Rumble” Johnson surprised the MMA world in April last year as he announced his decision to hang up his gloves following his defeat to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210.
The two-time UFC light heavyweight title contender fell short at the final hurdle to Cormier on both occasions and was seemingly done with the sport aged just 33.
But Rumble says he would return to MMA as long as he has current and former UFC light heavyweight champions Cormier and Jon Jones as foes in the heavyweight division, rekindling and migrating their three-way rivalry to the weight class above.
After rumours of a return were seemingly confirmed by Johnson’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, the American took to Instagram to state his stipulations. [H/T MMA Fighting]
“Yes, it’s true that I’ll come back at heavyweight, but only if Jon fights DC for the title,” Johnson wrote. “It’s a personal goal of mine to fight the very best of the best before I truly stop fighting.
“Jon was always my motivation once I went to 205. Heavyweight would be insane if the three of us were at it again!”
Johnson has long made his desire to fight Jones known in public, though their relationship is amicable. The pair were due to face each other for the light heavyweight title at UFC 187 in 2015, but Jones’ troubles outside the cage saw the fight cancelled. Instead, Rumble fought Cormier and lost inside three rounds via submission in their first bout.
Heavyweight MMA has long struggled for star power, but that could all change if light heavyweights Johnson and Jones step up in weight class like their foe Cormier.