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.

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.

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.

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.

BREAKING: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson signs with Bellator

Anthony Rumble Johnson

In a shocking turn of events this morning, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) is heading to Bellator. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani broke the news this morning saying that Johnson had parted ways with the UFC and signed with Bellator.

This is very similar to what happened with Corey Anderson when he signed with Bellator. The top UFC light heavyweight out of no where was released and signed a deal with Bellator within hours of the release.

Just this week, we posted an article about Rumble’s return to the UFC. He has been training extremely hard in his quest to try to become a champion. Anthony Johnson hasn’t fought since 2017 when he lost to Daniel Cormier.

Over the weekend, the UFC announced that they would be making a number of roster cuts before the end of the year. Rumble was going to be a fighter that was going to make a decent amount of money. One has to wonder if that played a part in all of this.

Rumble in Bellator

Per Helwani, the plan is for Rumble to fight at light heavyweight and make his debut for Bellator in the first few months of 2021. With the addition of Rumble Johnson, Bellator’s light heavyweight division just got even better.

Scott Coker’s claims to have the best light heavyweight division just doubled down with the signing of Rumble Johnson. He’s a major signing for Bellator and could easily become the light heavyweight champion.

There are so many good matchups for Johnson. He could always have a rematch with Phil Davis, fight Corey Anderson, and there’s the champion, Vadim Nemkov. I fully expect Bellator to put Johnson in the title picture very quickly.

I’m very curious to see who the promotion pairs him with first. Either way, we know that Rumble’s UFC days are over and his Bellator career will start very soon.

Anthony Johnson on his UFC return: “I’m trying to bury everybody”

Anthony Rumble Johnson

One of the most terrifying knockout artist in the history of the UFC is getting ready for his return. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will be returning to action in 2021 after retiring back in 2017.

Back at UFC 210, Rumble was submitted for the second time by Daniel Cormier. Cormier turned away Rumble in his only two attempts to capture the UFC light heavyweight championship. After the second fight, Rumble announced his retirement. 

He stated in his post-fight interview that he wanted to focus on other things. However, it seems that Rumble has caught that fighting passion again. He’s not playing with this comeback that was announced a few months ago.

Johnson entered the USADA testing pool and should be eligible to fight in March. He made it no secret that he’s planning on taking down whatever’s in his way at 205. In an interview he posted on his Instagram page, Rumble made no secrets about his plan.

When asked about who he’s targeting in the UFC, Johnson replied, “Everybody. I’m not going to call out just one person. I’m trying to buy everybody.” Terrifying words from the knockout artist.

Rumble’s UFC return

We are getting closer and closer to Rumble Johnson making his return to the UFC. He’s doing it at a great time considering the light heavyweight division is wide open. Jon Jones vacated the title to move up to heavyweight and the division has a new king.

Jan Blachowicz reigns over the light heavyweights at the moment. The Polish Power is on an incredible run and he’s got a bigtime fight in the works with the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.

When it comes to contenders at light heavyweight, the number one contender is Glover Teixeira. Teixeira has gone on an incredible run of winning five consecutive fights. If Adesanya wasn’t moving up, Glover would be getting a UFC title shot.

However, with Adesanya getting the next shot at Blachowicz, Teixeira will have to wait his turn. It’s worth noting that Teixeira was knocked out in 14 seconds by Rumble Johnson. Not saying they would, but maybe the UFC asks Glover if he wants a rematch while he waits.

However, I don’t think that fight’s likely. Another option for Johnson could be a guy like Johnny Walker. Would be a winnable fight for Rumble, but a fun one for fans.

One thing is for sure, I expect a big name in Rumble’s UFC return. If he comes back and looks like he did a few years ago, he’s only one win away from a title shot in my eyes.

State of the light heavyweight division after UFC 253

Corey Anderson

This past weekend at UFC 253, a new light heavyweight champion was crowned. This was the first light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier since 2011. The new UFC light heavyweight king has some serious Polish Power.

Jan Blachowicz (27-8) completely dominated Dominick Reyes (12-2) this past Saturday to claim the UFC light heavyweight title. Blachowicz has gone through a career resurgence since 2017 that has seen him go 8-1 on his way to capturing UFC gold.

It was clear from the very beginning of the fight that Blachowicz had an advantage. His power took Reyes by surprise, and as a result, Reyes seemed extremely gun shy. In the second round, Blachowicz landed a massive flurry that finished the fight.

Blachowicz became the first male UFC champion from Poland. He became just the second Polish champion in history alongside Joanna Jedrzejczyk. So after UFC 253, where do we go from here and what is the status of the light heavyweight division?

What’s next after UFC 253?

There are going to be two storylines to follow in the coming weeks when it comes to the light heavyweight division. The first and most obvious storyline is the UFC‘s pound for pound best fighter in the world, Jon Jones.

After years of reigning over the division, Jones vacated his UFC light heavyweight title. Jones seemed more interested in moving to heavyweight, although he did tease a potential return to the division on Saturday night after Blachowicz won the title.

At the moment, I think Jones is going to stay on course to fight at heavyweight, but who knows. Assuming Jones doesn’t return, all eyes will shift to the November contest between Glover Teixiera and Thiago Santos. The winner of that fight will be first in line to face the new UFC light heavyweight champion.

Another name to keep your eyes on is Anthony “Rumble Johnson. Johnson has re-entered the USADA testing pool and is planning on competing in the first half of 2021. Rumble is known as one of the most feared knockout artist in UFC light heavyweight history.

Dominick Reyes will need to regroup after his second straight UFC loss, but there are a few other top contenders in the division. Jiri Prochazka and Aleksandar Rakic are two names to keep your eyes on. Exciting times in a new and fluid UFC light heavyweight division.

UFC 253 Co-Main Preview: Who will be the new UFC light heavyweight champion?

Dominick Reyes

For the first time since 2011, the UFC will have a light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier. Dominick Reyes (12-1) and Jan Blachowicz (26-8) will battle tomorrow night for the vacant UFC light heavyweight crown.

There hasn’t been much parody in the division since Shogun Rua held the title. After Jon Jones won the belt at UFC 128, the division was ruled by him. The only time the belt changed hands was when Jones’ outside issues stripped him from the title.

In those times, Daniel Cormier led the charge. However, with Cormier retired and Jones moving to heavyweight, it’s a new and exciting day in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. The two top contenders are fighting to lead the charge on this new day.

In addition to this UFC title fight, there is a title eliminator between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixiera booked for November, and Anthony Rumble Johnson is coming back. Exciting times are ahead for the light heavyweight division.

UFC 253 Prediction

For Dominick Reyes, he’s trying to right the wrong that occurred at UFC 247. In the eyes of many, Reyes did the unthinkable which is beat Jon Jones. However, all three of the judges gave the fight to Jon Jones. There were some debatable rounds, but many thought Reyes won.

A lot of people look at this fight more as a UFC title defense for Reyes versus him challenging to become champion. The uncrowned UFC champion will have his hands full tomorrow night, but he does have the skills to match.

Reyes has been very good since making his debut back in 2017. Outside of a controversial win against Volkan Oezdemir, Reyes has looked relatively dominant in his UFC career. His athletic ability, good/long striking and strength have made him a handful.

Standing across from Reyes tomorrow will be some Polish Power. Also since 2017, Jan Blachowicz has turned the corner in his UFC career. He had one slip up in a TKO loss to Thiago Santos, but outside of that, he’s been very good.

He’s racked up wins over Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuwa, Nikita Krylov, and Jacare Souza. However, his most impressive victories have been his knockouts over Corey Anderson and former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold.

Blachowicz will definitely have the power advantage between the two men when they step into the cage for the UFC light heavyweight title tomorrow night. It’s going to be a fantastic fight.

In terms of a prediction, this one is easier for me to predict than the main event. I think Reyes is going to give Blachowicz a lot of issues with his speed. While the reach actually favors Jan, Reyes does a better job of striking from range.

I think Reyes is also going to show much improved cardio over the span of this one. I expect both guys to have their moments throughout the fight, but I think Reyes will do enough to win it on the scorecards. This time, Reyes will walk out of the cage with a UFC title.

Prediction: Dominick Reyes by Unanimous Decision