KEY POINTS

  • Anthony Johnson made a successful Bellator debut against Jose Augusto
  • Johnson has inched closer to a Bellator light heavyweight title
  • Johnson admitted the Daniel Cormier-Stipe Miocic trilogy sparked his MMA return

Anthony Johnson debuted at Bellator 258 against Jose Augusto at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, with a first-round knockdown after coming back from retirement. It was the wake-up call that “Rumble” needed, showing the world that he still had that killer right hand to knock out the Brazilian, who was a late replacement for original opponent Yoel Romero.

The win allowed the former UFC fighter to advance to the semifinals of the Bellator World Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. The win means he will face Vadim Nemkov next time around, USA Today reported.

"I felt [the left hook] but I wasn't like -- I don't think I was wobbled. If it looked like that on tape then I can't answer," Johnson said. "Honestly, I felt like I was just off balance when he hit me. I'll admit it [after watching], that's the first time I have been rocked [in my career]. I don't even remember it."

The 37-year-old has not fought since 2017 when he lost to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. He went into a short retirement period before revealing that he signed with Bellator in December 2020.

“I needed to have a break from being a professional athlete for a change,” Johnson said to the New York Post. “… I just needed a chance to be myself, clear my head, clear my body and mind.”

Johnson admitted that the itch to fight again was sparked when he followed the Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic trilogy the past three years. Now, he finds himself in a good position to become Bellator champion – assuming he will continue to show that he has that one-punch knockout move.

The closest “Rumble” got to becoming world champion was against Jon Jones in 2015. Unfortunately, “Bones” got embroiled in a hit-and-run incident that shelved those plans. He ended up facing Daniel Cormier for the vacant title but lost via third-round submission.

Now, he is in a perfect situation to become champion with all the pieces in place. Rather than think of the past, Johnson wants to win a world title the right way.

“I know I’m supposed to win a world title,” Johnson said. “I know I am. I feel it. But I also know I’ve gotta go through those battles to get there.”

Mixed martial artist Anthony Johnson Mixed martial artist Anthony Johnson Photo: Getty Images | Ethan Miller