Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

The MMA world lost one of their own on Sunday, with Anthony Johnson passing away.

Johnson died at 38 years old due to organ failure from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare immune disorder (via Yahoo Sports). While he may be gone, ‘Rumble’ is not forgotten, especially by his fellow fighters in Bellator.

Several fighters competing at Bellator 288 would speak to MMA Island regarding the remarkable legacy of the famed knockout artist, who racked up 17 KO’s in his career.

Corey Anderson:

“How can you say the name ‘Rumble’ and not know what we talking about? Even you’re talking about anything rumble, say ‘rumble’, people think Anthony Johnson. I ain’t talking about fighting. I’m like, my belly rumbling? Anthony Johnson is in your stomach? [Anderson laughs] Rumble has left a huge impact, not just on the fight game but on his opponents. That impact was that right hand, when he hit you with it, it’s over. Just that impact he’s gonna leave in the fight game. Granted, Derrick Lewis got the lead in knockouts. I’m sure people know Rumble’s knockouts more than Derrick Lewis because he was just that influential, not just in that, but the fact he’s fought all the way down from 170 up to heavyweight in other organizations.

“This is a sad one. We lost a true OG and a real one. Condolences and prayers to his family and loved ones.”

Anderson’s Favorite Moment Of Johnson’s Career:

“I wanna say it was World Series of Fighting. He was fighting D.J. Linderman. I remember Linderman poked him in the eye and he was backing up like, ‘yo, eye poke, eye poke!’ Like he couldn’t even see, he was going like this trying to make sure nobody touched him and you hear the ref saying, ‘I didn’t see nothing!’ And he opened up one eye and Linderman was running at him in a full sprint. [Johnson hits him] and you see Linderman [get knocked out]. One hit with one his eyes closed! Just nuts, this dude. I was like, yo, that’s an OG, cold, legit [KO]. Like, you don’t see that. He couldn’t see, he literally just put the brakes on, open up one eye and just let it go. And it was over.”

Vadim Nemkov:

“Much like everybody else in the MMA community, I’m very saddened and affected he passed away and especially that he’s been ill for quite some time now, battling this thing. He’s somebody I’ve watched for a long time. He’s always brought his a-game. He was always exciting. He was always looking for knockouts. He had plenty of knockouts, he had all the power. He was always very exciting, always in great shape, always in the top of whatever division he was in at the time.

“So, when I had the opportunity to fight him, I was actually pretty excited to test my skills against somebody with his experience and a high level, which unfortunately didn’t happen. But, he’s definitely left his mark.”

Patricky Pitbull:

“I watched Rumble for many fights. I love his style because he’s very dangerous. He was very dangerous, explosive like me, dangerous like me and I believe humble like me. Rest in peace. He was a good fighter. He should be honored.”

Usman Nurmagomedov:

“He was a puncher and I remember watching him as a kid. he’s a legend, gone way too soon. He left a lot of highlights behind that generations to come will watch and enjoy. Great fighter. I feel bad for his family… I wish them all peace.”

Tyrell Fortune: 

“Overall, he was such a good person. He had a very kind heart. He was very soft spoken and just easy and fun to be around. He was always a good mentor and just a good person just to like ask for advice, ask for like how you doing in the fights and see what he thought. When I first started getting involved in this sport, I was a wrestling coach with the Blackzilians. I had never met somebody who came into practice so intense. Just to be with guys that you would be hugging, laughing with, two seconds later you put on the gloves and he’s trying to knock your ass out. It is in a vicious way, but it’s not malicious. Like, he’s doing it to make you better. He’s trying to make you see your holes and give you a good workout, too. So, it wasn’t anything crazy, but it was the intensity he brought to every workout.

“He showed me something. I was just there being a wrestling coach and he was a big push and motivation to be like, ‘hey Tyrell, you should do this sport, like you can be good. You could have a lot of success. So it’s crazy just to hear outta nowhere like somebody’s life can be taken away and end. He’s a great person overall and as a fighter as well. I was very sad to hear about his loss.”

Fortune aspires to be like ‘Rumble’

“Of course, I want to knock out people in a vicious way, too. Who doesn’t? This is the name of the game. Watching him at practice got me an attitude. I practice with that same intensity. I’m sh*t talking, I’m in your ass at practice. That’s just the kind of guy I am. I think watching him at the beginning was a big influence to be like, this is the kind of energy, kind of mindset you need to have at practice because that’s going to cross over to the game, the live sh*t. So it was good, I definitely aspire him to be someone like him.”

Sullivan Cauley: 

“Rumble is one of the scariest light heavyweights of all time. I guess one of the scariest MMA fighters of all time, just a thunderous puncher. I never knew him personally, but I know people who did like coach Jordan Johnson knew him and apparently he was a really solid guy and he treated people with respect. It’s a tragedy that he’s gone.”

Roman Faraldo:

“It’s very unfortunate. I only got to meet Anthony once and was actually at like a bare knuckle fight. I shook his hand, I told him I was a big fan. I didn’t really know him on a personal level, but how he’s influenced the sport was drastic. A guy like him was devastating. Anytime he stepped in the room, he knew he presented as a threat. Beyond the MMA world, it’s just sad and very unfortunate. He’s 38 years old, his family’s there.

“As fans, you want to see him perform and stuff, but there’s so much beyond us as athletes that the people really don’t get to see you. You only you get to see me for 15 minutes in a ring if we make it that far. You get your whole life, you got your kids, your parents, your cousins, uncles, whatever. It’s just very unfortunate, that they more than anything, they suffer the biggest loss.”

Archie Colgan:

“He’s touched a lot of people. He was able to go out there and just be the man that he is. Like, watching interviews with him and he’s not just some savage fighter, he’s out there saying true things and being very respectful to the people that he fights. But he goes out there and we all seen what he can do and what he does do to people.

“It’s sad, it’s disheartening to die from a young age like that, you know? I’m not even sure exactly what it was that he passed away from. It’s just sad that, outside of legacy, that somebody at that age with family and stuff. People have to grieve over that.”

Rest In Peace, Anthony Johnson. 

By Chris De Santiago

Chris De Santiago is a 20-year-old journalist out of Texas. He is the founder of MMA Island and also works for