Anthony Johnson wants to beat Jon Jones 10 times worse than Gustafsson did

Seconds after Anthony Johnson landed his final right hand to the jaw of Alexander Gustafsson, which forced the stoppage of their fight less than three minutes into the first round, the resurgent UFC fighter knelt down in his corner and had a moment of silence to himself.

This was the same man who three years ago got bounced from the UFC because he couldn’t make weight on his best day. Johnson thought he was meant to fight at 170 pounds, so he would go through brutal weight cuts that left him looking shriveled and hollow just so he could pack on the pounds and be that much bigger than his opponents.

When his experiment to move up to even middleweight failed, Johnson left the UFC in a cloud of shame, but he never gave up hope that he would return one day.

Now, he stands as the No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight division, and he will fight Jon Jones for the title later this year.

Alexander gave him of course the worst beating he’s ever had. Hopefully, I can give him one 10-times as worse.

— Anthony Johnson on Jon Jones

"It just didn’t seem real. I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just beat the guy who, in my opinion, beat Jon Jones,’ so I was really in a state of shock," Johnson said at the FOX UFC Fight Night post-fight news conference. "Nobody’s ever stopped Alexander like that before, so I was just speechless, really."

It wasn’t an easy road to get back to the UFC, but now that Johnson has arrived, he proved everybody right that had faith in his return to the Octagon. There were moments when even Johnson wondered if he’d ever make it to this level.

All those questions have been answered.

"I never gave up hope on myself, but I never thought I would be in this situation," Johnson said. "This is a blessing. There’s a lot of people that doubted me, and at times I doubted myself in certain situations. But I’m here and I don’t plan on going backwards at all."

Following Johnson’s first-round shellacking of Gustafsson, the new top dog in the contender’s race at 205 pounds didn’t have to wait long for the champion’s name to come up in the post-fight news conference. 

Johnson has learned a lot over the years — most notably that he doesn’t have to dislike an opponent to knock him into the middle of next week.  He liked Gustafsson just fine, and Johnson finished him in less than three minutes.

He feels — or doesn’t feel, as the case may be — the same way about Jones.

"I never come into any fight with emotion. I don’t have anything against Jon Jones," Johnson said.

The only prediction Johnson would make is that Jones has never faced a striker like him during his tenure as UFC champion. If Jones thought what Gustafsson did to him was bad, just wait until Johnson gets his hands on him, Johnson said.

"I think I’ll be the hardest puncher he’s ever faced, and he’s faced a lot of top quality guys.  Hopefully, I can just do things nobody else has done to him," Johnson said about Jones.

"Alexander gave him, of course, the worst beating he’s ever had — hopefully, I can give him one 10 times as worse."