Anthony Johnson Biography

Anthony Kewoa Johnson was an American mixed martial artist. He was born on March 6, 1984, and passed away on November 13, 2022. After spending the majority of his career competing for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he was a multiple-time title challenger, he finished his career with a single bout for Bellator MMA. In that fight, he was unsuccessful in defending his championship. It was the light heavyweight division that he competed in. He was known mostly by his nickname, Rumble, which was bestowed upon him as a result of the one-punch knockout power that he possessed.

Before he announced his retirement in April 2017, he was ranked as the number one contender in the light heavyweight division in the official UFC rankings  and he was ranked number two in the world by both Sherdog and ESPN. In May of 2021, Johnson came out of retirement and competed against Jose Augusto in what would be the last fight of his life. Johnson won the fight by knockout.

Early life

Anthony Kewoa Johnson was born in Dublin, which is located in the state of Georgia. His grandparents adopted him when he was just 2 years old and reared him as their own. When he was young, his grandfather and the football player Walter Payton were the people he looked up to as role models. After graduating from West Laurens High School, he won the junior college national wrestling championship and received a scholarship to attend Lassen College in Susanville, California. Lassen College is located in the state of California. After he graduated college, he got a job as a bouncer, and at the age of 20, he started training in mixed martial arts since a friend suggested it to him because of his wrestling history.

Mixed martial arts career

Ultimate Fighting Championship

At UFC Fight Night 10, Johnson made his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship by knocking out Chad Reiner in just thirteen seconds of the first round. He had agreed to take part in the bout with less than a week’s notice, replacing Steve Bruno, who had ruptured his rotator cuff and was unable to compete. Additionally, he was seen trying out for season six of The Ultimate Fighter in a video from the past, but for reasons that have not been made public, he did not make it onto the show.

Rich Clementi was his opponent at UFC 76, which was his next fight. In the second round, he was submitted with a rear naked choke and lost the bout.

After suffering his first defeat in the professional ranks, Johnson went on to compete against Tom Speer at UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Lauzon.

He knocked out his opponent in the first round, which was the decisive round for him.

The following bout for Johnson was against Kevin Burns, which took place on July 19, 2008, at UFC Fight Night: Silva vs. Irvin, which was broadcast live on Spike TV. During the course of the fight, Johnson was repeatedly jabbed in the eyes by Burns, who was issued many warnings for his behavior. In the third round, Johnson suffered another poke to the eye, which this time resulted in a fractured retina and rendered him unable to continue. However, referee Steve Mazzagatti made a dubious call and awarded the fight to Burns via technical knockout.     Johnson filed a claim for compensation for the loss, but it was rejected on the grounds that there was “no available remedy.” [14] [15]

At the conclusion of season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Johnson engaged in a rematch with Kevin Burns.

Johnson won the match after knocking out Burns with a head kick at the  position.
The knockout won “Knockout of the Night” and a $25,000 prize for the fighters’ efforts.


The fight between Johnson and Luigi Fioravanti took place on February 7, 2009, during UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs. Stephens. He won by knockout in the first round by technical knockout.

Due to a knee injury, Johnson was unable to compete in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter season 9, in which he was set to meet Matt Brown. At UFC 104, Johnson faced the Japanese judoka Yoshiyuki Yoshida instead of his original opponent. Johnson was required to give up twenty percent of his fight money because he had weighed in at 176 pounds, which is five pounds more than the welterweight non-title battle limit of 171. Yoshida was knocked out by Johnson 41 seconds into the first round, however Johnson did not make the weight requirement, so he was not entitled for the Knockout of the Night bonus.

Johnson was able to quickly bounce back from his bout with Yoshida and take on Josh Koscheck at UFC 106 on November 21, 2009, due to the fact that he had sustained relatively little damage throughout the bout.
Fight of the Night awards were given to both Johnson and Koscheck for their performance in the match, which Koscheck won through submission with a rear naked choke.

The fight between Johnson and John Howard was scheduled to take place on March 21, 2010, at UFC LIVE: Vera vs. Jones[22], but Johnson was forced to withdraw out after sustaining a knee injury in training.


Johnson’s knee issue caused him to explore competing in the middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).


On the episode of Inside MMA that aired on June 4, 2010, Johnson mentioned that in order to get down to 170 pounds, he needs to normally lose 55 pounds. Johnson has stated that despite the fact that he may compete at 185 pounds, he does not expect to remain at that weight and instead intends to remain at 170 pounds.

Early in 2011, Johnson made his way back into the octagon. On the night of March 26, 2011, he competed against Dan Hardy at UFC Fight Night 24. [25] Johnson defeated Hardy by a unanimous decision thanks to his better grappling and his ability to control the fight. In the first round, Johnson knocked Hardy out with a left head kick.

Johnson was scheduled to compete against Nate Marquardt in what would have been his first main event on June 26, 2011, at UFC on Versus 4. However, due to an injury, Johnson was forced to withdraw from the fight, and Rick Story was brought in to take his place.


After that, Johnson competed against Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 6 in Las Vegas. As a result of his first-round knockout victory, he was awarded the title of Knockout of the Night.

Johnson intended to compete at middleweight for his next bout, which was scheduled to take place at UFC 142 on January 14, 2012, against Vitor Belfort.
In the days leading up to the weigh-ins for UFC 142, Johnson’s team of medical professionals urged him to stop his weight cut and begin rehydrating. Johnson weighed in at 197 pounds, 11 pounds heavier than the limit for the middleweight division. The fight was still going to take place, but there was a condition that Johnson could not weigh more than 205 pounds on the day of the fight or he would have to give Belfort 20 percent of his purse. On the day of the fight, Johnson’s official weight was recorded as 204.2 pounds, and Belfort prevailed by submitting Johnson in the first round.  After suffering the defeat, Johnson was disqualified from the competition due to the fact that he had once again failed to make the required weight.

Titan Fighting Championships

After being kicked out of the UFC, Johnson competed in the 22nd edition of the Titan Fighting Championships against fellow UFC veteran David Branch .[31] Johnson once again failed to make the 186-pound restriction for the middleweight class on the day of the weigh ins for the bout, as he weighed in at 194.2 pounds, which is 8.2 pounds overweight. This resulted in Johnson being disqualified from the fight. Branch was informed the morning of the weigh-in that Johnson would not make weight, and as a consequence, he weighed in at 189 pounds. This was the result of the weight-in. After some discussion, it was decided that the fight would take place at a catchweight of 195 pounds. This was the fourth time in Johnson’s professional career that he had weighed in at a weight that was higher than the limit that had been set for him. Johnson was awarded victory in the bout by unanimous decision (30–27 on all cards).

At Titan Fighting Championships 24, Johnson made his debut at a light heavyweight, where he competed against Esteves Jones, a former King of the Cage Super Heavyweight Champion. Johnson won via technical knockout in just 51 seconds of the second round.

Independent promotions

At Xtreme Fight Night 9, Johnson squared off against Jake Rosholt. A head kick delivered by Johnson in the second round resulted in a technical knockout victory for Johnson.

World Series of Fighting

On November 3, 2012, Johnson competed in WSOF 1 against D.J. Linderman, a veteran of the Bellator organization.  He knocked out his opponent in the first round to win the fight.

On March 23, 2013, at WSOF 2,[35], Johnson competed against Andrei Arlovski at the heavyweight division and emerged victorious via unanimous decision.

At WSOF 5 on September 14, 2013, Johnson was slated to compete against Mike Kyle, a veteran of Strikeforce.


Johnson, on the other hand, could no longer continue the fight because of an injury.
Johnson vs. Mike Kyle was scheduled to take place at WSOF 8 in Hollywood, Florida on January 18, 2014, however it was ultimately canceled.

Johnson was able to finish the battle quickly by knocking out his opponent in the first round.


Bellator MMA

It was revealed on December 9, 2020, that Johnson had split ways with the UFC and had signed a multi-bout contract with Bellator MMA. Johnson’s last fight with the UFC was on December 9, 2020.

On February 9, 2021, it was revealed that Johnson would be competing in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament. Johnson’s participation in the tournament was anticipated to begin on March 1. On April 16, he was supposed to compete against Yoel Romero in the quarterfinal round at Bellator 257 , however on March 26, it was revealed that the fight would be changed to Bellator 258 on May 7. [81] On April 29, it was disclosed that Yoel had been unsuccessful in passing his pre-fight medical examination. As a result, the fight was canceled, and Romero was eliminated from the competition.  The following day, it was revealed that Jose Augusto would take Yoel’s spot in the fight as well as the Grand Prix competition. [83] Johnson was able to come back after being knocked down in the first round and win the fight through knockout in the second round.

On October 16, 2021, at Bellator 268, Johnson was supposed to compete against the current light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov, in the semi-finals of the Grand Prix, with the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship on the line.


On September 18, it was reported that Anthony Johnson was forced to withdraw from both the fight and the tournament due to an illness for which the specifics were not provided. Johnson had high hopes of making his comeback in the year 2022.

Personal life and death

Following his retirement from competitive martial arts, Johnson established the CBD oil business Competitive Body Development. Johnson was promoted to the position of head of fighter relations for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship in the beginning of 2019.

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and non-Hodgkin lymphoma were the underlying causes of Johnson’s death on November 13, 2022.