UFC welterweight prospects Anthony Johnson (8-3) and John Howard (13-4) will have to put their longstanding feud on hold after "Rumble" suffered a knee injury and was forced to withdraw from the upcoming UFC on Versus event scheduled for The Odeum Colorado in Broomfield on March 21.
In the battle of mouthy maulers, it's now Johnson who will take most of the heat.
They were originally set to do battle at last June's Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale; however, Howard withdrew from the bout under his manager's direction, prompting a slew of unflattering remarks from Johnson.
"I don’t appreciate him calling me a coward or anything like that. He has to understand that the decisions that are made for me are smart decisions. My job is to fight. I don’t make decisions about who to fight or when I’m going to fight, and I don’t pull out of fights ... Anthony Johnson has been in the UFC a little longer than me, and it’s not because I’m a coward (that the fight was nixed); it just wasn’t time…. I want to fight him, and the first chance I get the OK to fight him, I will. And he’s going to eat his words, definitely. It’s personal. He’s going to regret ever questioning me."
Howard was instead paired up with Tamdan McCrory at UFC 101 in Philadelphia back on August 8, squeaking past "The Barn Cat" via split decision.
The win was good enough to earn him a crack at Dennis Hallman at UFC 106 on Nov. 21. Dooms came from behind to stop "Superman" with just seconds remaining in their clash.
It appeared that Howard was finally ready to test himself against Johnson -- who suffered a major setback en route to 170-pound title contention.
"Rumble" was choked out by Josh Koscheck -- also at UFC 106 -- to snap a three fight winning streak. Unfortunately the contest was not without controversy.
The fight was littered with bizarre stoppages and frequent mishaps including eye pokes from both sides and a controversial knee while "Kos" was grounded. Johnson contends his errant knee never made head contact and that his loss can be attributed to the aforementioned eye mashing.
Whatever the case, this latest setback isn't going to help him get back into the title hunt any time soon.
UFC on Versus 1 is set to feature a fantastic main event between dynamic light heavyweight strikers Brandon "The Truth" Vera and Jon "Bones" Jones. Junior "Cigano" dos Santos and Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga are also expected to be in action on what is shaping up to be a great card for the promotion's debut on the Versus network.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for news of a possible replacement for Johnson. In the meantime, check out the latest fight card and rumors for UFC on Versus 1: "Vera vs. Jones" click here.