Let's get ready to "Rumble!"
Rising welterweight prospect, Anthony Johnson, sure is.
Johnson is now all geared up to headline UFC on Versus 4 in just over a month against debuting welterweight Nate Marquardt in Pittsburgh. He spoke about the upcoming main event with Pittburgh's 93.7 The Fan earlier today.
Here's what he had to say about the marquee match up:
"I just like competition. Anything that's dangerious, I like. I like the challenge of it. It gives me a rush. Going in there and fighting a guy that has the same amount of respect for me as I do for him, it's fun because you just let it all out. Nate's dangerous, he's really dangerous. He's great. He's a really good competitor. He just added more firepower to the welterweight division. That's what we needed. The welterweight division was already stacked. In my opinion, anybody can hold that title so you've got to mind your P's and Q's whenever you fight."
In Johnson's last fight against Hardy, he took some flak for fighting safe after knocking down the former title-challenger and using his wrestling.
Many forget that at his base, the AKA product was an NJCAA national champion wrestler. Johnson defended his strategy when asked about if he'd be willing to stand with Marquardt instead of taking the fight to the ground.
"That's the difference. This is MMA. If they want a kickboxing match, they can watch K-1. I'm a mixed martial artist. I'm gonna do what I gotta do to win. The fans are gonna to love you or hate you but as long as you keep getting that W, that's all that matters. Do I plan on standing? I don't know, man. We'll see how it turns out. It depends on the situation. I'm gonna still go out there and do my best. If I have to stand up, I'll stand up. If I have to take him to the ground, I'll do that. I'll do whatever it takes to win."
Johnson also makes headlines for his weight. He's had trouble making the 171-pound limit for welterweight in the past, twice missing weight by more than five pounds.
The knockout artist caused a stir when it was reported he had to drop from a weight of more than 230 pounds to make weight for his last fight against "The Outlaw." And the 27-year old fighter addressed questions about potentially moving up a weight class.
"I just don't want to fight at 185 or 205. Can I? Yeah. But why would I do that when I know I can drop down to 170 and still be successful in that weight class? Losing the weight is not a problem. You just have to eat healthy and stay focused. When I get bigger, like I was 231 and I dropped down to 171 in two months when I fought Dan Hardy, that's 60 lbs in two months. That's a mental thing. You've just got to be mentally focused and ready and you've got to have a good camp with you. It's not hard to lose that weight. I hear people say 'Oh, I can't lose 5-10 pounds' and I'm like 'serious?' Just get your head out of your behind and do what you gotta do. I'm used to losing a lot of weight so it doesn't bother me at all."
Everyone has an origin story. "Rumble" discussed his humble beginnings in the sport of MMA, something that he can thank an ex-girlfriend for the final push.
"I kinda just stumbled across (MMA). In college some guys started paying attention to it and started doing some submission wrestling. We were just wrestlers. We were amateurs, we didn't know anything. I thought I knew a rear naked choke but I was doing it wrong, backwards. Just getting into this sport, my neighbor kept asking me to come to his dad's gym and I was like 'man, y'all don't know anything' because the college and the town I went to is so small, Susanville, California is so small it's like a hick-town. You've got to be a cowboy or a correctional officer to live there if you're not a college athlete. He kept asking me to come to his dad's gym and I finally went. My girlfriend at the time was like 'dude, you've got to get out of the house and do something' and before that she said, 'go check it out, if you like it stick with it and if you don't, don't go back' and now I'm here talking to you. I fell in love with it."
Johnson closed the interview by discussing his goals, as well as the pressure of headlining a main event.
"Do I want to be a legend? Only time will tell. I just wanna be that guy who goes out there and gives it all. I want GSP and Chuck Liddell money ... It's competition, it's what we do for a living. We're supposed to be ready for things like this, to fight on the main event. To me, if I'm on the undercard or the main event, I'm gonna go out there and fight with all I got. No matter what. It doesn't matter who it is, I'm gonna give it all I can."
Do you think "Rumble" could make Georges St. Pierre or Chuck Liddell money some day? The upcoming match with Marquardt will go a long way in finding out.