Illness forces Rumble Johnson out of Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Anthony Rumble Johnson

Bellator 268 was dealt a major blow today. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (23-6) announced via his Instagram page that he is incredibly sick and he’s having to pull out of the fight next month. Rumble was set to take on the light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (14-2).

Johnson said today, “Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I really am. Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God Willing. Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rumble who is clearly dealing with a tremendous illness. At this point, there’s no telling on when or if he will be able to return to Bellator. This is a massive blow to the promotion who had built so much hype surrounding Rumble in this tournament.

This is the second time that Bellator has had to alter their plans. Originally, they wanted Rumble to face Yoel Romero in the opening round of the Grand Prix. However, Romero had to pull out of the fight after failing to pass medicals. Now, Rumble’s illness is taking him out of the Grand Prix as well.

Bellator’s Next Steps

At this point, there is no word on what Bellator is going to do. They are planning on having Vadim Nemkov defend his title and compete, but there has not been a decision made on who will fight him. My guess is that they will wait until tonight’s main event concludes.

Tonight at Bellator 266, Yoel Romero and Phil Davis will battle it out. Davis lost to Nemkov in the opening round of the Grand Prix while Romero wasn’t able to compete as mentioned above. If Romero wins tonight and comes out clean, I could see Bellator asking him to step in to face Nemkov on short notice.

However, if Davis wins, I find it unlikely that they will ask him considering he’s already lost twice to Nemkov and lost to him in the opening round. Another option could be Jose Augusto Azevedo who lost to Rumble in the opening round. Time will tell, but this is a big blow to the Bellator Grand Prix.

State of the Grand Prix after Bellator 258

This past weekend at Bellator 258, we saw the final quarterfinal matchup in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (23-6) took on Jose Augusto (7-3, 1 NC) for a shot at the light heavyweight title.

The winner of Bellator 258 would fight Vadim Nemkov (13-2) in the semifinals, but the light heavyweight title would be on the line. Originally, Yoel Romero was going to fight Rumble Johnson, but he didn’t pass pre-fight medicals.

With that, Augusto stepped in. In a shocking turn of events, Augusto dropped and hurt Rumble badly in the first round. For a moment, it appeared that Augusto was going to pull off the massive upset.

However, Rumble recomposed himself and got back in the fight. In the second round, Rumble landed a massive straight right hand that put Augusto out cold. With that, Rumble made a successful Bellator debut and he moves forward to the semifinals.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

With Rumble’s victory at Bellator 258, the two semifinal matchups are now set. Vadim Nemkov and Rumble will fight for the light heavyweight title on one side of the bracket.

Nemkov defeated Phil Davis by unanimous decision last month to retain his title and punch his ticket to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, we are going to see an incredible matchup between Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC) and Corey Anderson (15-5).

Bader is the former Bellator light heavyweight champion and he’s the current heavyweight champion. He lost his light heavyweight crown to Vadim Nemkov and instead of moving back to heavyweight, he chose to compete in the Grand Prix to get his belt back.

Bader put on a great performance against Lyoto Machida in the first round. Since making his Bellator debut last year, Corey Anderson has looked incredibly dominant. He has two fights and two finishes thus far.

Despite Bader being the former champion, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Anderson as the betting favorite. Bellator is currently targeting July for the semifinal matchups. From there, October is the target date to crown the Grand Prix champion.

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson knocks out Jose Augusto at Bellator 258

Anthony Rumble Johnson

In the co-main event of Bellator 258, we saw the final quarter-final matchup in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson (22-6) was making his promotional debut against Jose Augusto (7-2, 1 NC).

Originally, Rumble was set to take on Yoel Romero in the co-main event tonight. However, Romero didn’t pass the pre-fight medicals and as a result, he was pulled off of Bellator 258.

The promotion decided to move forward with the Grand Prix and Jose Augusto got the call. Augusto just fought and won a month ago and he trains under the Pitbull brothers.

Augusto just made his Bellator debut back and April and he seemed more than ready to take on the challenge of Rumble Johnson. This is the first fight for Rumble Johnson in four years. The last time we saw him was at UFC 210 when he lost for the second time to Daniel Cormier.

Daniel Cormier is the only man to defeat Rumble in his last fourteen fights. Rumble was released from his UFC contract and signed an exclusive deal with Bellator. His debut was one of the more hyped Bellator debuts in recent memory. He was looking to make quick work of Jose Augusto tonight.

Bellator 258 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 258 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Rumble immediately takes the center of the cage and starts working his feints. A big leg kick from Rumble is countered by a 1-2 from Augusto.

Another good leg kick lands for Rumble. Rumble putting some pressure on Augusto and he throws a good push kick that backs Augusto up to the fence. Augusto tries to establish his jab, but he’s a bit out of range.

A really nice combination lands for Augusto. Augusto lands a right hand and you can tell he injured his hand. He tries to shake it out, but it’s clearly compromised. Rumble turns up the pressure afterwards.

Another right hand lands for Augusto, and he turns in pain. Rumble turns up the pressure and starts landing bombs, but Augusto isn’t backing down. A huge left hook lands for Augusto and down goes Rumble.

Incredible turn of events and Augusto is going for the finish. Rumble gets up and shoots for a takedown. Rumble lands the takedown as he tries to recover. The first round comes to a close and Rumble survives. 1-0 Augusto after one here at Bellator 258.

Round 2

Rumble definitely looked a little weary entering the second round at Bellator 258. He tries to start the striking with a leg kick, but he was a bit out of range. Augusto lands a good body kick to start his striking.

Solid lead left hook lands for Jose Augusto. Big left hook to the body lands for Augusto. Augusto is a one-handed fighter, but he’s winning the striking here. Nice jab lands for Augusto.

Rumble looking extremely tentative here in the second round. Then out of no where, a huge 1-2 lands from Rumble and Augusto is out. Rumble wins his Bellator debut by knockout.

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson def. Jose Augusto by KO – Round 2

Bellator 258 Preview: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson – Jose Augusto

Anthony Rumble Johnson

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of Bellator 258, we will see the return of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Rumble returns for the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix and he meets Bellator newcomer Jose Augusto (7-2, 1 NC) tomorrow night.

Originally, Yoel Romero was supposed to take on Rumble in the Grand Prix. However, last week we learned that Romero didn’t pass pre-fight medicals. With that, he was pulled from the Bellator 258 co-main event.

When Romero fell out, Bellator searched for a replacement for tomorrow’s co-main event. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Jose Augusto who trains under the Pitbull Brothers.

Augusto will be making his Bellator debut tomorrow night. Currently, he’s riding a five-fight win streak. The last time he fought was on April 2nd and he seems more than game to take on Rumble tomorrow night.

As mentioned, Rumble’s Bellator debut is his first fight in four years. Rumble last fought at UFC 210 where he lost for the second time to Daniel Cormier. In Rumble’s last 14 fights, he’s 12-2 with Cormier being the only man to defeat him.

Rumble was released from his UFC contract and signed with Bellator a few months ago. It was a surprising move by all parties involved, but it’s a fresh start for Rumble who is going to look to make a statement tomorrow night.

Bellator 258 Prediction

When it comes to the Bellator 258 co-main event, the big thing is going to be the grappling of Jose Augusto. Rumble Johnson looks like he’s in the best shape of his life leading into his Bellator debut.

If this fight stays on the feet, I don’t see Augusto doing well at all with Rumble. Rumble is one of the most prolific knockout artist in the history of the light heavyweight division and I just don’t see Augusto holding up well against the power.

Now, if Augusto comes out and is able to land takedowns at Bellator 258, he can definitely make things interesting. His submission and grappling skills could pose some problems.

However, I just don’t see it happening. I think Rumble makes a big statement tomorrow and gets a first round finish on his way to the semi-finals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Prediction: Anthony Johnson by KO – Round 1

Bellator announces that Yoel Romero – Anthony Johnson is off

The one matchup that fans were the most excited about when it comes to the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix was Yoel Romero (13-5) – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). The two were supposed to fight next weekend at Bellator 258.

Rumble and Romero were both released from their UFC contracts last year. Almost immediately, Bellator snatched both men up and put them in the upcoming Grand Prix. The two knockout artists seemed like they were going to deliver the goods for the promotion.

However, late last night, we learned that the fight was off. Bellator announced that Yoel Romero was not cleared and the fight next weekend with Rumble is off. You can read the full statement below.

“Yoel Romero did not clear pre-fight medical testing and as a result, his Bellator MMA debut against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has been postponed. Bellator will confirm a tournament alternate to face “Rumble” Johnson in the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix as soon as possible.”

Bellator statement on Yoel Romero

What’s next for Bellator 258

This is a major hit to next weekend’s Bellator card. Yes, there are still some great fights including Juan Archuleta – Sergio Pettis, but the world was waiting for the battle between Rumble and Romero.

At this time, there is no word as to why or what made Romero fail his pre-fight medicals. Hopefully it’s not something that will keep him from competing moving forward. While Romero is 43 years old, he still seems to have plenty left in the tank.

I’m very curious to see who the promotion can find to take on Rumble next weekend. Rumble appears to be in phenomenal shape and he looks like he’s ready to make a statement at Bellator 258.

If Rumble wins next weekend, he will move on to take on Vadim Nemkov for the title in the semi-finals. However, before we can think about Rumble fighting for the Bellator title, we will have to figure out who he’s fighting first. This will be a story to follow over the coming days.

Bellator announces move to Showtime and Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Bellator MMA has been relatively quiet since the calendar moved over to 2021. However, they’ve been making big moves behind the scenes that would further the promotion’s vision in 2021.

Today, Bellator announced that they have agreed to a deal with Showtime and Showtime will now become the exclusive home for their events. Just last year, Bellator announced they had a deal with CBS Sports Network, but the Viacom promotion is shifting gears.

Showtime decided to get involved and both sides agreed that it would be best to move the promotion to Showtime. Bellator will also be moving their events back to Friday nights after a brief stint on Thursdays.

In addition to announcing the new deal with Showtime, Scott Coker announced some exciting news in terms of the light heavyweight division. By far, the light heavyweight division is the best that Bellator has to offer.

They made some huge signings in the last year and they are ready to capitalize. Coker announced today that Bellator would be starting a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix that will start on April 9th.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will kick off on April 9th. In the first quarter final matchup, Corey Anderson (14-5) will be taking on Bellator newcomer, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1).

Also on April 9th in the main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (27-6) will be taking on Lyoto Machida (26-10). Bader is the Bellator heavyweight champion and just lost his light heavyweight title last year to Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Of course, the matchup everyone wanted to see takes place on April 16th. Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will battle it out. However, despite the hype behind this matchup, it will not serve as the main event on April 16th.

Instead, that honor will belong to the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov will be competing in the tournament and defending his title against Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). An absolutely stacked field and fight fans should be very excited about this Grand Prix.

Corey Anderson says Bellator is better than the UFC at light heavyweight

Corey Anderson

2020 turned out to be an eventful year for Bellator‘s Corey Anderson (14-5). When the year started, Anderson was one of the top contenders in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He appeared to be one win away from a title shot.

However, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) starched Anderson in February to claim that top contender status. After Anderson was knocked out, he had a series of health concerns that kept him from competing. These health scares also had him reevaluate his career.

Anderson decided to go to the UFC and ask for more money. When the promotion wasn’t willing to, he asked for a release to be able to look around in the market. The UFC released Anderson and Bellator signed him almost immediately.

It turned out to be the first of several moves like this for Bellator. After signing Anderson, Bellator would go on to sign Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) after they were released from the UFC.

Those top three contenders join the likes of Vadim Nemkov (12-2), Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC), and Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). It’s safe to say that Bellator’s light heavyweight division has never been better.

In fact, it’s so good that Anderson believes it’s the best on the planet. Anderson told MMA Fighting, “I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand. Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in they’re trying to hype up but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now.”

Bellator or the UFC?

If we are going to go on pure name recognition, it’s hard to argue Corey Anderson’s point. Bellator has some serious name power in their light heavyweight division. However, it is the best in the sport?

In all honesty, if you’re looking at the totality of their top five, it might be. The UFC’s top contender is Glover Teixeira (32-7) who was knocked out in 14 seconds by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

Then again, there’s also Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) in the UFC’s top five. Prochazka stopped Bellator’s champion, Vadim Nemkov, when the two of them faced off a few years ago.

Another interesting wrinkle to throw into things is the light heavyweight debut of Israel Adesanya (20-0). Stylebender is fighting Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title in March.

Anderson definitely has an argument that Bellator is just as good if not better at 205 than the UFC. However, I believe the best light heavyweight in the world right now is Jan Blachowicz with Jon Jones moving up.

Overall, the UFC has a deeper division due to the amount of fighters on the roster and they have younger contenders. While Bellator is right there, I would still give the advantage to the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the UFC.

Fights Bellator needs to make in 2021

2021 is officially here and it’s expected to be a big year for Bellator MMA. Despite having a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion had some really high points in 2020.

Not only did Bellator put on some tremendous fights, but they made some big signings. With a string of signings in the second half of the year, Bellator has a light heavyweight division that can compete with anyone’s.

We just entered 2021, but it’s looking good for Bellator. They have a lot of talent on the roster and they can be taken more seriously now. Gone are the days where Bellator cards are being headlined by the likes of Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000.

In 2021, there are a couple of fights that stick out as “Must-Makes” for Bellator. One of those fights comes from their most stacked division and the other comes from the division that holds the greatest fighter in the promotions history.

Bellator matchups that need to happen in 2021

Yoel Romero – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

The first matchup that Bellator needs to make is Yoel Romero (13-5) against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Both of these men were signed by Bellator in the last couple of months of 2020.

The two former UFC title challengers are two of the more terrifying fighters in the sport. Romero just fought for the UFC middleweight title back in February of 2020 before being released at the end of the year.

Rumble has been out since 2017, however, outside of Daniel Cormier, nobody has been able to stop him since 2012. Both of these men are terrifying and extremely talented. Neither are likely to get a Bellator title shot right away considering the title picture.

With that in mind, Bellator needs to book the two men against each other. A matchup between Rumble and Romero is bigger than the light heavyweight title. It’s a massive fight that would draw in a ton of fans. I fully expect Bellator to book this fight early in 2021.

Patricio Pitbull – AJ McKee

This potential Bellator matchup is one that will likely be booked by default. The potential featherweight matchup between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) and AJ McKee (17-0) is one that Bellator absolutely needs in 2021.

Both men are currently in the featherweight Grand Prix. McKee has already punched his ticket to the finals while Pitbull still has to defeat Emmanuel Sanchez. Pitbull has already defeated Sanchez once before.

You can imagine that the promotion is praying that Pitbull makes it through that fight victorious. No disrespect to Sanchez, but the fight that everyone wants to see is Pitbull against AJ McKee.

McKee has fought all 17 of his pro fights with Bellator. He looks like he can become the homegrown superstar that Bellator needs. He definitely has mainstream appeal and he’s only 25 years old.

Pitbull is arguably the greatest fighter Bellator has ever had. He continues to get better and better and he’s currently a two-division world champion. The fight between these two could be massive.

The best thing for Bellator in 2021 is for McKee to get his shot against Pitbull and win. AJ McKee has what it takes to become a superstar in MMA. If he can come in and win the title from someone like Pitbull in 2021, look out.

Bold 2021 predictions for Bellator MMA

Patricio Pitbull Freire

2021 is already promising to be a massive year for Bellator MMA. The promotion made some major progress in 2020 despite having to shut down for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bellator put on some tremendous fights in 2020. However, it was their string of signings in the second half of the year that had the MMA world buzzing. Bellator really stacked their light heavyweight division.

Bellator added Yoel Romero (13-5), Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6), and Corey Anderson (14-5) to their light heavyweight division. All of the former top UFC contenders parted ways with the UFC this year.

As soon as they hit the open market, Bellator scooped them up. In doing so, the promotion has put together a light heavyweight division that is certainly capable of competing with the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

There are so many things to watch for with Bellator in 2021. I wanted to do some bold predictions for the promotion for what will happen in 2021. If these predictions come true, there are going to be some shocked MMA fans.

2021 Bellator Bold Predictions

Patricio Pitbull leaves 2021 without a title

For my first bold prediction I’m looking at Bellator’s two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4). Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has on the roster. He’s arguably the best fighter in the promotion’s history.

He currently is the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion. However, there has been whispers of him vacating the lightweight championship. Pitbull became the lightweight champion when he defeated Michael Chandler (21-5) in 2019.

However, Pitbull is small for the weight class. He mainly moved up to lightweight to challenge Chandler to avenge his brother’s (Patricky Pitbull) knockout loss to Chandler. He has yet to defend the lightweight championship.

I’m going to say that Patricio Pitbull vacates the Bellator lightweight championship to focus on featherweight. However, I think that this is going to be the year that Pitbull is dethroned at featherweight.

The most exciting prospect in Bellator is AJ McKee (17-0). The Mercenary has fought all seventeen of his professional fights under the Bellator banner. They’ve brought him along the right way and he’s on the verge of superstardom.

McKee has already earned a spot in the finals of Bellator’s featherweight Grand Prix. The other spot will go to the winner of the fight between Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

I believe that Pitbull is going to defeat Sanchez when they fight setting up a fight between him and McKee. I’m going to say that McKee not only wins the Bellator featherweight title, but finishes Patricio Pitbull. With that, cementing himself as the superstar that Bellator needs.

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion

As mentioned above, the Bellator light heavyweight division is completely stacked at the moment. All of those signings are incredibly exciting and I didn’t even mention the promotion’s light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Nemkov knocked out Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) to capture the Bellator light heavyweight championship back in August. Nobody has been able to stop Nemkov since he made his debut with the promotion in 2017.

With the additions made to the light heavyweight division, many are saying Nemkov will not leave 2021 as the champion. However, my bold prediction is that the belt stays with the Russian as we enter 2022.

As things currently stand, there are three front runners to face Nemkov whenever he defends his title. Those contenders being Corey Anderson, Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC), and a rematch with Bader.

Something tells me that Nemkov is just going to fight twice in 2021 with both of his fights coming from that group of three. Nemkov has already defeated Davis and Bader on his way to the title.

Corey Anderson is definitely a tough challenge, however, I think Nemkov can beat him. While everyone will want to see Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero challenge for the Bellator title next year, I’m not convinced it happens.

Something tells me that Nemkov is going to have a rematch with Ryan Bader next. Scott Coker said that they are looking into this. I believe that Nemkov will beat Bader again to retain the Bellator title.

Perhaps on the same card, I believe we will see a matchup between Davis and Anderson as a title eliminator. I also see Nemkov defeating the winner of that fight. So my prediction is when all is said and done, Vadim Nemkov is still the light heavyweight champion after 2021.

State of the Bellator light heavyweight division entering 2021

Bellator MMA had a very big year in 2020. Despite having to shutdown for a few months due to the pandemic, they accomplished some great things. From the first major MMA event in France to transitioning to CBS Sports Network. 

It’s been a very good year for Bellator. However, despite those accomplishments, it’s the additions that Bellator has made in 2020 that really stand out to me. Specifically the additions to the light heavyweight division.

The UFC parted ways with three top level fighters in 2020. Those fighters being Corey Anderson (14-5), Yoel Romero (13-5), and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Bellator pounced on those three immediately and scooped them up.

Anderson asked for his release earlier this year after he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough. Once released, Bellator signed him to a deal where he was making more. Yoel Romero was recently cut from the UFC. However, he fought for the middleweight title in his last fight.

Once on the market, Bellator signed him for the light heavyweight division. Rumble Johnson’s UFC return was much anticipated, but the two sides decided it would be best to part ways. Once on the market, Bellator signed Rumble as well.

Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Division in 2021

When the year started, Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) held both the Bellator light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. However, he hadn’t defended his light heavyweight title since 2017. That changed at Bellator 244 when he fought Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

While there was a lot of hype surrounding Nemkov, many believed it would be another win for Bader. However, Nemkov proved the doubters wrong by stopping Bader in the second round. Nemkov is now the light heavyweight king and he’s 5-0 in Bellator.

The next title defense isn’t clear for Nemkov. There’s talk of a potential rematch with Bader, but there is also talk of him facing either Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC) or Corey Anderson. Davis is riding a three-fight winning streak and just defeated Lyoto Machida (26-10) in September.

Anderson made his Bellator debut in November when he smashed Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 251. In my opinion, Bader should fight at heavyweight next and let Nemkov take on either Anderson or Davis.

The fight everyone wants to see is the potential matchup between Romero and Rumble. In all honesty, it’s bigger than the champion Nemkov facing off against any of those top contenders I mentioned.

Rumble – Romero is one of the biggest matchups Bellator could make in 2021. There have been whispers of a potential Grand Prix, but nothing is official. What we do know is that the light heavyweight division is stacked. Nemkov is going to have his hands full this upcoming year.