Former UFC light heavyweight title contender Anthony Johnson was expected to become a major player in the Bellator MMA 205-pound weight class. True to form, “Rumble” scored a highlight-reel knockout over Jose Augusto at Bellator 258 last May.
But then Johnson abruptly withdrew from his follow-up fight against Vadim Nemkov back in October after succumbing to an “undisclosed illness” — a mysterious ailment compounded by cryptic tweets from Johnson and no further clarification from the promotion.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
“I talked to him about a week ago and we had a very good conversation,” Bellator president Coker told MMA Junkie. “Without getting too much into his medical condition, he’s got to worry just about being healthy first. Fighting will always be there. I told him to keep doing what he’s doing, keep listening to the doctors and keep at it. We’re going to be here, we’re not going anywhere. If you get cleared at some point, we’ll definitely have you back.”
The 37 year-old Johnson — who spent four years on the sidelines chasing this dream — brought some of the baggage he carried in UFC to his new home at Bellator MMA. Just hours after his debut win, “Rumble” was arrested and charged with alleged identity theft.
Johnson (23-6) hasn’t been seen since.
“I think he has a little ways to go, to be honest, and we’re going to be there rooting him on,” Coker continued. “But until he gets clearance – I don’t look at it like he’s going to be fighting in six months or four months or eight months. Let him take his time, let him get healthy and when he gets healthy we can have a conversation. If it’s a year from now, 18 months from now, or six months from now, we’ll get at it. But until then, he’s got to heal up and get healthy because there’s so much more in life than just fighting.”
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