Jon Anik recalls Anthony Johnson’s ‘larger-than-life’ loss: ‘It is just an unquantifiable cost for the MMA Community’


Just like the rest of MMA, Jon Anik fondly remembers Anthony Johnson.

On Sunday, Johnson passed away at the age of 38. Anik was shocked to hear the news, even though he had just called UFC 281 Madison Square Garden just the night before.

” “So sad”, Anik said to MMA Fighting. I was like “No, this cannot be true,” Anik said to MMA Fighting. He admitted that it was frightening, even though it wasn’t fatal. However, it didn’t diminish the fear of this bigger than life Anthony Johnson. He was so scared of me that I never stopped being scared.

“This just felt like a whole crashing down of everything that happened the night prior with Alex Pereira, and it just brought everything back down to earth. I used to say before Francis Ngannou that this was the biggest power threat in UFC history and he will always be on Francis’ heels right there for me, and that’s a big part of his UFC legacy just how frightening of an individual he was to fight, yet that flies into the face of everything he was as a human being. His kindness and generosity were just too gentle .”


“Rumble” compiled a pro record of 23-6, which included two stints in the UFC, along with a run in the former World Series of Fighting, and a victory in his final bout under the Bellator banner. Johnson competed mostly as a welterweight in his first run with the UFC, and returned to the promotion in 2014 as a light heavyweight, where he earned two title shots against Daniel Cormier.

While Johnson was fierce inside the cage, Anik saw him as a positive and gracious presence outside. Anik feels that the loss has left a huge hole in the community.

” I will never forget going to the Patriots Super Bowl with my twin brother. He posted a photo of us and said, “Dude, it’s amazing that we don’t have any ‘Rumbles. In a physical sense, it’s unbelievable.” It’s an incalculable loss to the MMA community, and it’s really, really, very sad.

” I was there with [Daniel Cormier] just five minutes before news broke. Can you even imagine how it felt for him? They’re forever linked and my heart goes out to the Blackzilian family and everyone that knew Rumble even better than I did.”

Anik recalls Johnson being an athlete that treated all people with respect. This includes the first interaction between the two during Anik’s official UFC membership over a decade ago.

“At UFC 142, February 2012, Jan. 14, It’s a memory that I will never forget. But the UFC 142 was the first event where I had worked. “He gave me time after the loss, and if you remember there was all of the weight issues, the fight ended up at 197 pounds, or whatever it was, but I just always enjoyed being in that man’s presence.

“He always treated our staff like gold — Heidi Dean and everybody else, the late Suzy Friton our makeup artist, you can be sure Rumble was posting when she passed away — and [he had] just a heart of gold, man. We are all going to do our best to remember him .”