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Anthony “Rumble” Johnson strives for greatness at UFC 210

07
Apr

When Anthony “Rumble” Johnson enters the Octagon Saturday night against UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 210, he’ll have the second chance to cement his strong legacy.

It’s kind of fitting that Johnson’s walkout song is “Moment” by Lil Wayne, because his moment to move into the conversation of being one of the best 205-pound fighters of all-time is upon him. If Rumble who is known as one of the best knockout artists in UFC history can put Cormier to sleep or ground him out for five rounds, Johnson would not only be accomplishing a career goal but changing the narrative of his solid career.

“The ultimate goal for a top athlete in MMA is to get the belt or in team sports is to get championships,” Johnson told RingTV during a recent conference call. “Getting a belt around my waist would definitely put me up there with the best of the best. I don’t want to be a ‘could have been’ or one of those guys they talk about that should have did this or could have done that because I want to be that guy they say he did it.”

After getting submitted by Cormier in May 2015 at UFC 187, the pressure clearly rests on Johnson’s shoulders to prove that loss was an aberration. Cormier is the only man to defeat Johnson in the last 4½ years inside the Octagon.

Since losing Cormier, Johnson has been on a sensational knockout streak having put UFC light heavyweight contenders Jimi Manuwa and Glover Teixeira to sleep in highlight-reel fashion along with pounding out recent signed Bellator star Ryan Bader.

Even more impressive is the fact Johnson knocked out all three men within two rounds and in a combined 7 minutes and 7 seconds.

“I’m definitely not the same fighter I was two years ago,” Johnson said. “Every day, every week, every month, every year I’m getting better and better, so you’ll see a different guy out there the next time you see me fight.

“[The loss] definitely lit a fire under my ass to train harder and know what I needed to do to beat this guy.”

The first-time Johnson and Cormier met, Johnson nearly added the champion to his list of knockout victims. Cormier survived the blow and ultimately wore Johnson down with his wrestling and pressure en route to a third-round rear-naked choke finish.

Which led me to ask the knockout artist how he might win using something other than his fists, which caused Cormier to butt in and say, “He does not believe that if he doesn’t knock me out, he’s going to get his hand raised. That’s why he didn’t answer your question. Anthony’s a smart guy. He won’t lie to you.”

Rumble never did answer the question, but he didn’t have to because his chance to answer the question will tomorrow night in the middle of the Octagon at Key Bank Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

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