Widely regarded as the hardest hitter in the sport,tTonight, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson looks to improve his record to 23-5 in his rematch against Daniel “DC” Cormier in UFC 210. Earlier this week, Johnson sat down for an exclusive interview with rolling out to discuss the rematch as well as what it was like being raised by his grandparents.
How does it feel to finally be at fight week?
I feel great, man. Ready to get this thing going.
How was this training different from the training you underwent for previous fights?
It was great. Stress-free, injury free. All of my fights are really injury free because I train pretty smart and hard, but this training camp has been amazing. Everybody’s been on the same page.
What are some of the keys for you staying injury free during training?
Listening to my body. If I’m tired one day, then I’ll take the day off instead of pushing through it, because then that’s when you hurt yourself. Your body’s obviously tired for a reason, so you just need to give it that recovery time and that’s what I’ve been able to do.
Has there been any music you listen to relax or get into the zone?
Not really. I just play whatever. Anything except country.
You said that contrary to DC, you’re focused more on the fight and getting it done, right?
Yeah. That’s all, man. There’s no point in doing all of this talking and yapping and stuff like that.You know, I just go out there and do what I do, so everything else doesn’t matter to me.
Where do you think that mindset came from?
My grandad. He just taught me to work hard and keep my mouth close, so that’s what I’m doing.
Did you live with your grandad?
Yeah, my grandparents adopted me.
How was that growing up in Georgia?
It was awesome. My grandparents are amazing and most people love their grandparents. It’s no different with me.
How did you get into fighting?
Just kind of fell into it. I didn’t look forward to anything like that. My neighbor, at the time, out of college had a dad who had an open gym, they invited me to come out, I did and I just loved it.
What do you love most about fighting?
Just the competition.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
Just wrestling and football.I played baseball a little bit and ran some track. I was a catcher at one point and I was at shortstop.
Your nickname is “Rumble,” who gave you that name?
I kind of just gave myself the name, actually. All the cool names were taken and I had to come up with something.
How does it feel to be known as one of the hardest hitters in the sport?
I honestly never think about it. I know I can end a fight in a second, but I never think about being one of the most dangerous guys. I’m just not that way.
Why do you think you’ll win this rematch against DC?
It’s just my time. It’s just my time. I feel great, I’m happy, I’m healthy, just ready to go. Whatever happens out there is going to happen but I know it’ll be in my favor.
What motivates you in the Octagon?
Failure. Failure motivates me. I never want to fail. I want to be successful in everything that I do.
Was there one specific moment from your club bouncer days that was just crazy?
Yeah, I was a bouncer. These Hispanic and Asian guys were about to get into it and that’s when me and my guys were in the middle of it and tried to calm everybody down. Then one of the guys pulled me from behind, grab me from behind my neck and after that everything just went crazy. At that point, it was like the bouncers versus the Hispanics and the Asians. Then what’s crazy is that happened on a Saturday. Sunday’s I always call my grandmother. So the next day comes around and I call my grandmother and she hits me with the, ‘I had a dream last night that you fell and hit the ground.’ And I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’
So that was one of the moments that I knew we really did have a special connection with each other. I didn’t tell her what happened, but that was one of the moments that I felt that way.
Did you hit them with one of those Rumble Johnson punches in the scuffle?
Man, I didn’t have time. I was trying to get off the ground [laughs].
Who’s your favorite football team right now?
I would probably have to say the L.A. Rams, the old school. They’re rebuilding right now, but they’ll have their time.
What did you all do for fun in Dublin, Georgia?
Nothing. You know, I’m from the country, so riding on bikes down dirt roads, making some bootleg ramp to jump off of, and playing basketball. Regular kid stuff. We didn’t really have the video games and things like that. I mean I had a Nintendo, but that was it. By the time Nintendo played out, you had the SEGA, you had the Gameboy, Playstation, and you know all this other crazy stuff.
Do you think kids nowadays are a little more spoiled?
Yeah. Kids are definitely spoiled. Most of them don’t know how to change a tire on a car. Check the oil in a car. They expect everything to be handed to them. Life is so much easier than what it used to be. I’m not mad about it, but kids don’t have the same upbringing that we once had because they don’t have to have it that way.
Do you think that’s a bad thing or a positive thing?
I think it’s a bad thing. I definitely think it’s a bad thing. How is the new generation going to actually learn by keeping their heads in the books? You can read all you want, but how are you going to actually go out there and do it? It’s not going to be the same. You’ve got these guys who have flat tires on the side of the road and they’re waiting for roadside assistance to come and change the tire for them. Dude, get ya a– out, look in the back of the trunk, and do what you gotta do. But now they’re young, they don’t know how to do it. Most of them don’t even know how to wash dishes. They have a dishwasher now, it’s crazy.
What do you think the adults need to do to change it back to some of the ways the old school used to do it?
They definitely have to take away the games and make them go outside and do activities, but that’s not going to happen. Society doesn’t allow us to do that anymore. You see someone with their kids outside and their like, “It’s too hot to be doing all of that. They need to go inside and sit with the air condition.” You know, things like that. The parents have gotten soft, so it’s making the kids even softer.
Do you think parents becoming softer is going to affect the future of UFC and fighting?
Naw. Fighting’s within everybody. Everybody wants to see a fight and some bloodshed, so UFC is going to be around forever.
What’s the strongest attribute of DC’s game?
He’s a great all-around fighter. Good punches, good takedowns.He’s a decent fighter, you know, he beat me last time so he definitely doesn’t suck.