When Anthony “Rumble” Johnson made a surprise announcement about his retirement following his last fight in the UFC against Daniel Cormier in 2017, many believed it would only be a matter of time before he returned.
Now more than two years later, Johnson has absolutely no regrets about his decision to call it a career and still has no plans to ever fight again.
“Nah, never,” Johnson responded to MMAWeekly when asked if he misses the sport. “I respect the sport obviously. If I miss anything, I miss being around my teammates. I miss being around those guys and being able to laugh and joke and see the progress and the growth of those fighters. Watching Kamaru Usman start from scratch and seeing him now, he’s the champion. I miss seeing those guys grow but it kind of brings joy to my heart that they’re successful and they’re doing even better than I did. I’m extremely happy for everyone.
“I’m at peace with everything. Of course, I wish I could have the one fight with Jon [Jones] but that’s just that. That’s probably never going to happen so onto the next.”
When he retired, Johnson didn’t have concrete plans about what he would do next but he still knew the time was right to walk away.
There aren’t pension plans for fighters who compete in the UFC or any other major mixed martial arts promotion and Johnson admits he had lofty expectations about the money he would earn during his career that would allow him to live comfortably for the rest of his life.
“You know what for the longest, I didn’t know what I was going to do after fighting,” Johnson said. “I just figured I would be rich anyway and I would be champion. I thought I’d be making that Floyd Mayweather money and I got slapped back to reality.”
In the aftermath of his retirement, Johnson started hustling to put together a game plan to ensure that he would be successful outside of fighting.
He launched his own CBD oil company and just recently signed on as the head of fighter relations for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships (BKFC). Johnson is still fighting for everything he’s got but he’s no longer taking punches to the head to get it.
“I just started getting burned out from the sport. The same routine, the same everything. You’re kind of a robot programmed to do certain things. So when I saw an opportunity for business, I always wanted to be a businessman and I jumped on it,” Johnson explained. “All of a sudden, I got a CBD oil company called Competitive Body Development and so far I’m loving it. It’s cool being a businessman.
“[BKFC] brought me on board because after being in the UFC, I know a little bit. I might not know the full ins and outs of the business but I know enough. So I’m on board to help them get fighters and help the organization a little bit. Even before me, I felt like they were on the right path.”
This weekend, BKFC will promote their fifth card in the past year with two former UFC fighters headlining the show as Artem Lobov faces Jason Knight in the main event. Former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ season one competitor Chris Leben is also on the card and multi-time boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi just recdently signed with the promotion as well.
Johnson has been amazed by what he’s seen out of BKFC so far and it’s only encouraged him to tackle his new job with even more exuberance as he plans for the future.
“With the company only being around a year old, to get the caliber of athletes we have already and to get the big names, it amazes me,” Johnson said. “That shows you how much faith that these athletes have in the organization.”
“I just want to help this organization grow and see what we can do with this thing.”
Johnson has a lot on his plate as an executive with BKFC and that’s exactly where he wants to be in his career right now. There are no plans to fight again and if anything, Johnson is only looking to further expand his business acumen in the coming years.
When he called it a career, Johnson knew the time was right and now he’s onto bigger and better things outside the cage.
“I think most guys know when to call it quits. They just don’t want to. I knew when to quit,” Johnson said.
“I want to be just as successful as whatever I do as I was in fighting. Everybody considered me one of the most dangerous strikers ever. I want to be the smartest fighter to leave mixed martial arts and become successful in something else. I want to be that now.”