MMA

Anthony Johnson likes fighting without crowd, not opposed to change

Anthony Johnson feels more focused without a crowd.

Anthony Johnson is one of four men participating in the Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals. The former two-time UFC title challenger is looking to capture Bellator supremacy by earning the title of Grand Prix champion and undisputed light heavyweight champion. In order to accomplish those lofty goals, however, Johnson will have to get by current light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkoff, to advance to the finals.

The bout between Johnson and Nemkoff is scheduled for October 16 in Arizona, along with the other semifinal between fellow ex-UFC fighter and former champion, Ryan Bader, and Corey Anderson. The winners will then fight each other to crown a tournament champion in the near future. With the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, more states are beginning to re-introduce restrictions on indoor gatherings, which could mean that Bellator might have to eliminate fans from witnessing the tournament’s conclusion in person.

Johnson, while focused on the fight, actually enjoys the aspect of fighting without fans and is open to the idea if Bellator has to eventually go that route. Johnson is coming off of a come-from-behind KO/TKO victory against Jose Augusto, in which he was nearly finished in the opening round before turning the fight around to secure the stoppage win.

“No, I actually liked it when there were no fans,” Johnson told FanSided’s Amy Kaplan. “I felt like I was more focused. I didn’t have to worry about the screams. And just the energy, you know what I mean. I love the energy, but I felt like I could focus more when there was nobody in there, you know what I mean, so. But having the fans there definitely gets me going. There’s nothing like having a crowd of fans, you know, screaming your name and cheering for you. I mean, we’re the modern-day gladiators, you know what I mean. Every gladiator is happy to be a fan-favorite. So, I look forward to going out there and putting on a show for the fans.”

Anthony Johnson took five years away from MMA

Johnson was a long-time UFC fighter, spanning across the welterweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight divisions during his tenure. After losing a rematch to Daniel Cormier in April 2017 at UFC 210, Johnson decided to hang up the gloves but didn’t rule out a possible return to the sport.

Now, Johnson will look to cement his legacy in the Bellator cage, but still has some work to do in order to capture glory. Only time will tell.