WSOF 8: Anthony Johnson Remains Focused on Mike Kyle, Despite Free Agency And Title Shot Talk
By Kelsey Mowatt
Since Anthony Johnson exited the UFC in 2012, following a submission loss to Vitor Belfort, the 29 year-old has done his best to remain a pivotal figure outside of ZUFFA. Not only has Johnson won five straight since his UFC departure, but thanks to wins over D.J. Linderman and Andrei Arlovski, he’s become one of World Series of Fighting’s key figures. If Johnson defeats fellow UFC vet Mike Kyle tomorrow night at WSOF 8, his value to the relatively new promotion will have never been greater.
Since Johnson is set to enter free agency after Saturday’s event, however, there has been considerable speculation and discussion as to what the future holds for the 29 year-old. One would think that a six fight win streak, and several wins over UFC veterans, would prompt a call from the world’s biggest promotion. Of course, not only are there a few ‘ifs’ in that scenario, but Johnson has made it clear he’s enjoyed his time with WSOF.
“Right after the fight; in my opinion,” Johnson said on a recent media call, while discussing when he hopes to discuss a new contract with WSOF. “I mean I love Ali (Abdelaziz), I love Ray (Sefo), I love World Series of Fighting and everybody, so, I’m really enjoying myself here. So we definitely need to see what happens; you know what I mean?”
“Anthony has been here since day one and he’s one of the pioneers,” Abdelaziz, WSOF Executive Vice President and matchmaker noted. “We love Anthony but at the end of the day, after this fight, win, lose or draw, we’d love to have Anthony around, but if Anthony has any other ideas, if he’s interested in any other ideas, we will support him 100%. Wherever he goes…I’m always going to say, you cannot do your best, at any place, if you’re not happy 100%.”
Another reason Johnson may consider a return to WSOF is because the promotion’s president, Ray Sefo, has announced that the light-heavyweight will earn a title shot provided he defeats Kyle.
“It makes me feel great, but like I tell everybody else, the title isn’t on my mind right now,” said Johnson. “I have to fight Mike Kyle and then beat him, and then I’ll think about the next step. So, first and foremost, my mind is on January 18th, not after that.”
And how does Johnson believe his bout with Kyle will unfold? Considering the veteran’s lengthy resume and well documented stopping power?
“I’m sure Mike plans on knocking me out the same way I plan on knocking him out,” Johnson said about Kyle, who is coming off a decision loss to Arlovski, after quickly stopping Travis Wiuff. “But I don’t know if it’s going to be a brawl; I’m pretty sure that whatever happens, it’s going to be well calculated and how we envision it in our minds.”
“We’ll see what he brings to the table, and whatever he gives me, I’ll definitely take it.”
WSOF 8 will be hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The main card will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network throughout the United States.