AJ: Main reason I retired was concern over head trauma in MMA
Anthony Johnson planned to retire after his title fight with light heavyweight Daniel Cormier at UFC 210 in April. If he won, he was going to leave the belt in the ring. Cormier beat him, again, and that was that.
“I gave my commitment to another job, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” said Johnson to commentator Joe Rogan. “It’s not MMA-related or anything like that. It’s just time for me to move on to something else. I’m tired of getting punched by guys and rolling around on the ground with guys and stuff like that. Ain’t nothing fun about that.”
As the #1 contender, Johnson was making a very good living, as champion, he would have been a millionaire. In the past, Johnson had vaguely referenced a job he could do with easily a six-figure income. There was wide speculation about what it was, with the most likely destination being an S&C job with an NFL team.
Johnson appeared recently on pro wrestling star Booker T’s Heated Conversations podcast and revealed it is not working for an NFL team.
“We’re opening up a facility, if you know what I mean,” said Johnson, as transcribed by Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting. “It’s for medical uses. … We got some good things going on. It’s already big. We’re just waiting for that law to pass and whenever it passes, we’re golden. We’re playing our cards right, we’re playing by the book, so that way there’s no issue.”
Johnson retirement has a stick to go with the “if you know what I mean” carrot. In fact, he said the main reason he retired was concerns about long-term health complications, and being able to talk with his kids by the time he is 45.
“My health, man,” he said. “You hear about CTE and all this other stuff. Head injuries. You’re harming your body playing football and stuff like that, but this stuff can happen just as fast in mixed martial arts as any other sport, because we’re constantly beating on each other. I love myself, you know what I’m saying? A lot of guys don’t think about that.”
“If those guys want to go in there and do that to themselves, go ahead, that’s your life, that’s your body, that’s your future. But for me, I’m destined to do something greater.
“I just couldn’t do it anymore. You gotta go in there and do your thing. You’ve gotta make your money and get out. That’s why Conor McGregor is killing it. He’s straight killing it.”
“I left on my own terms. I left on good terms and I left as one of the best fighters ever in the weight class. I did my job.”
Johnson offered a third reason – that he was, “never a fighter.” He was instead a great athlete and a natural at MMA. And he is one who is done with fighting at age 33. He is not coming back as so many fighters who have retired do.
“That’s not me,” said Johnson. “When I say I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it. I’m finished, man. … I’m not about that life anymore.”
Interview starts at the 26:50 mark.