Thursday, December 11, 2008

MMA interview: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson

Originally posted on 8countnews

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson has got something. Something makes his hands heavier than most. His 4 ounce gloves seem to more crisply crack against the flesh wrapped bones of his intended target. Fighters fall to the canvas more often than not. His got something. He's got It. At UFC's Fight Night 10, Johnson made his debut with a thirteen second knockout of Chad Reiner, after taking the fight on less than two weeks notice. This past July, Anthony jumped into the Octagon with Kevin Burns, with most expecting another devastating knock out. Instead, Johnson was very oddly forced into a TKO loss after Burns' open palm striking led to multiple eye gouges. Burns claimed that the pokes were all accidents and were the result of him having to punch with an open hand after suffering an injury prior to the fight to that hand. Johnson was gracious in defeat, but anxious for a rematch none the less. Now "Rumble" is getting that chance. Johnson and Burns will square off at the finale of the Ultimate Fighter finale, Team Mir vs. Team Nog this Saturday night in Las Vegas. 8Count caught up with Anthony recently right after a training session…

8Count: So, how was training tonight?

Anthony: Training is training, bro, you know how it is.

8Count: Absolutely, always fun. Not too many sessions left before the fight right? Are you still training with Cung Le?

Anthony: Yeah, this is our last week. I'm in San Jose training with Cung Le.

8Count: So, tell me about preparation for this fight. We all know what happened in your first fight with Kevin Burns this past summer. Most felt like you were winning the fight and then you were given the loss because of his eye pokes on you. Being that you were winning are you training the same way you did last time or are you mixing it up?

Anthony: Oh yeah, my strategy has changed a lot this time. I mean, I'm still me, and I will go in there looking for the kill, but I'm definitely a different fighter this time around.

8Count: So how has Anthony Johnson gotten better since we saw you last?

Anthony: My greatest improvement has been mentally. I think that's a very important part of me succeeding. If you can't maintain your own mental focus and also be able to break your opponent mentally as well, you are in trouble. There's two parts to it. I have changed as I fighter as well. I'm getting better as a fighter everyday. Cung Le and the training staff are helping me so much. I'm excited.

8Count: I can speak for many MMA fans and say I'm glad that Joe Silva is making this match happen again. When the fight happens what are you looking to do? You gonna knock him out or what?

Anthony: Ya know…that is the goal. (laughs) I always like to knock em out. I'm gonna have fun. I'm not holding back this time. I feel like I did last time and he still couldn't finish me even bringing his best. When I open up and get comfortable, I think the fight will be a totally different story. Kevin's a tough guy. He'll bring it. But, I'm gonna win. I'll tell you that.

8Count: Anthony, is there any bad blood between the two of you? You were gracious after the fight, but still he was poking you in the eye continually. Tell us about that.

Anthony: No bad blood. It was stupid what he did, sure. He did what he had to, but it didn't make him look good. I'm not mad at him. His hand was messed up, so he adjusted with the open palm strike. But, he made himself and his career look bad with that performance in my opinion. If you know what the potential of your own injury affecting someone is, you should do something about it. He took a chance and it cost us both. No bad blood, I just need to finish the fight the way it was supposed to be finished the first time and hope he doesn't poke me in my damn eye again. (laughs)

8Count: Absolutely. You mentioned that you got better mentally this time around. Often fighters talk about the mental game. How did you actually improve your mentally ability?

Anthony: I pushed myself a whole lot harder. I pushed past limits. When I first came up, I wasn't sure about who I was as a fighter. I'm learning that now. I am forcing myself to learn who I am and adapt to what I'm being taught.

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