UFC light heavyweight No. 1 contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is set to square off against No. 3 ranked light heavyweight Daniel “DC” Cormier for the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 187 in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 23. 

The 31-year-old has won nine consecutive fights and sports a calm demeanor as M&F meets up with him in the brightly lit green room of CBS Studios — where we spoke with UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman

A member of the esteemed Blackzilians training camp in Boca Raton, Florida, Johnson thrives on the pressure of big-time fights. 

“I make my own moments,” says Johnson with a mild smirk.

Johnson had more than just top-tier training partners at his disposal for the biggest fight of his career. His immediate family, including his aunt Barbara, cousin Nanyamka and grandma Pearlene, stayed close to his Florida home while he prepped for Cormier. 


Pearlene adopted Johnson at age two and raised him to be the man he is today, which is why he has plans to call her right before his walk to the cage.

“I want to make my grandmother happy because the one thing that she said — I talked to her the other day — she wanted to wear the belt in church [laughs],” Johnson says. “I want to see that smile on her face walking in church with that belt on her shoulder or around her waist because she’s the mother of the church.”

Johnson, accompanied by Pearlene, forgoes wearing traditional business attire for today’s lineup of media engagements, instead opting for Oakley shades, pants that resemble True Religion, a JACO sweatshirt and a beaded cross necklace. Check out what the hard-hitting brawler has to say about training, nutrition, “DC” and much more. 

M&F: You’re one of the hottest fighters in the UFC right now, wouldn’t you agree?

Anthony Johnson: I think there are plenty of fighters that are hotter than me right now. That word sounds so weird to me; saying it about myself [laughs]. I don’t see myself as some bigshot. I don’t feel that way in the UFC. I feel like I’m just a regular person in the business that’s all. 

M&F: Does this talk and all the appearances ever bother you?

AJ: No, because I appreciate it. I do what I do because I love it. The fans love it and when the fans love it, MusclePharm loves it. When they love it, they pay me [laughs]. 


M&F: What workouts do you employ that help you develop more knockout power in the Octagon?

AJ: I do 65-75 pound dumbell presses for two sets of 3-5 reps. Then, I do medicine ball throws in either a square or split stance. I like to work my core since that’s where your power pretty much generates from.

M&F: How often do you hit the weights in a given week?

AJ: Once a week. I don’t need to get big. I don’t need to try and get so strong because you can have all that and can’t bust a grape. 

M&F: Does Jake Bonacci [Blackzilians Strength and Conditioning coach] craft anything special for you? 

AJ: All of us basically do the same workouts. Just hard work and stick to the basics. 

M&F: What weight are you at right now?

AJ: 220 pounds.

M&F: What are some keys to maintaining muscle mass as you diet?

AJ: Don’t dehydrate yourself. You’ll definitely lose some size doing that. I would say just eat as healthy as you can. I mean, I eat a good amount of protein and some veggies. I don’t eat too many carbs. The amount that I do, it definitely gets me by. 

M&F: Could you give us a brief glimpse into your training camp at a given day?

AJ: I wake up in the morning around 7-7:30 and have my breakfast, which could be anything from a parfait to egg whites, quinoa, beans and some asparagus. I have some coffee and then I’ve got training at 10 with the team. We only train an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes. After that I do my errands. I might go to the physical therapist to get whatever I need worked on and then by 6-7, I’m working out again, whether it’s striking, wrestling or jiu-jitsu; or I could be working out with Jake.

M&F: What are some food you’re having now and how do you forsee your weight cut going the rest of the week?

AJ: The weight cut will be easy. I’ve made 205 since I’ve been in the weight class. I’m actually ahead of schedule. At lunch, I’ll eat some pasta with some more protein; some baked chicken. I eat every three hours. Around 3 pm, I’ll eat some fruit. Around 6 pm, I’ll probably have something else with pasta in it. I gotta have something with carbs in it, twice a day and small portions. At 9 pm, I’m usually eating something like salmon and I’ll just relax the rest of the night. 

M&F: What are some workouts that you can give to our readers to successfully land a takedown?

AJ: I do sled pushes for conditioning because it mimics trying to drive through somebody. I do hurdles, while shuffling in and out of my fighting stance and speed drills with the agility ladder. I usually, when I get through pushing the sled, my trainer will have me catch tennis balls in my stance. He’ll throw them to me and I have to catch it and throw it back. [That’s] hand-eye coordination. When you’re tired, that’s really tough.

M&F: How did you handle the opponent switch in the gym the next few days?

AJ: It was fine. It wasn’t anything special. My camp was the same. I just went from 6’0″ to 6’0″ and under in sparring partners. I sharpened up a few tools with my takedown defense. I just kept banging like I always do. 

M&F: Who has been the most influential person to you in the lead up to your first UFC title fight?

AJ: There’s a lot of people. My family, the fans, my manager and my coaches. 

M&F: Do you see this as the classic “Striker vs. Grappler” matchup?

AJ: I think we’re even in a lot of ways and we matchup really well. His striking has improved a lot. They always say styles make fights and I think we matchup very well. The only difference is I think I have more knockout power. He can take me down and maybe I can take him down. I’ll definitely try just to see what he has to offer me because I think the fact that he’s an Olympian, people don’t want to take him down. They’re afraid to go for a shot and afraid of making a mistake, but when you’re fighting for a world championship you can’t be afraid of anything. You just have to give it your all. 

M&F: Have you kept your eye on anyone else in the division coming up in the ranks, who you may fight in the future? 

AJ: I pay attention to everybody in my weight class. Ryan Bader is coming up. He’s a tough fighter. OSP [Ovince St. Preux], he’s a tough fighter. All of the top guys are still there. Hopefully Jon comes back. You still have Alexander [Gustafsson] and Glover [Teixiera]. I’ll never fight Rashad [Evans]. That’s my teammate. Rampage [Jackson] is back and he may not be ranked in the Top 10 but he’s still a knockout artist and can finish anybody at any second. I think the weight class is pretty stacked. 

M&F: What would it mean for you to win the title?

AJ: It would mean a lot for the team and my manager and coaches, as far as us winning it together. It would mean that all of the hard work and time I’ve put in to come back stronger and better than the last time I was in the UFC. I owe a lot to everybody. I owe a lot to my coaches and my manager. I owe a lot to the fans because they could’ve turned their back on me whenever I screwed up the first time, but they didn’t. I don’t want to let those people down. I want to make sure I keep a smile on their faces.