Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson given tributes in arena and on television broadcast during Bellator 288
Last weekend, the MMA community was rocked by the death of former UFC and Bellator veteran Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. With Bellator holding Bellator 288 on November 18, the promotion’s first event since losing Johnson, Bellator made sure to respect the man called “Rumble.”
Prior to the start of the Bellator 288 TV broadcast on Showtime, an “In Memoriam” screen was shown in Johnson’s honor. Another was shown following the Tyrell Fortune vs. Daniel James fight.
Following the latter, commentators Mauro Ranallo, “Big” John McCarthy and Josh Thomson gathered by the cage to share their memories of Johnson.
“Rumble Johnson was one of the biggest punchers in MMA history. He was an absolute monster. But the thing I remember about him is what he was as a human being. He was one of the kindest guys you could be around. He was funny, he was fun.
He was that guy that made you happy to be around him. If you got to spend time with ‘Rumble’ Johnson, you were the lucky person.”
An emotional Thomson, who was a friend and teammate to Johnson, shared more on Johnson’s charity efforts.
“The part I want people to remember him for is the charitable work that he did,” Thomson said. He would spend his holidays with kids. He started a campaign for anti-dog fighting…at one point, he had 12 Pitbulls that he was working with and trying to save from dog fighting.
This guy is something…I know people will remember him for ‘Rumble.’ That’s who he was, obviously, but I want people to remember him for his humble words, the way he smiled, the way he lit up the room, and the positive feedback he brought in.”
Bellator showcases tributes to Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson during Bellator 288
The broadcast then cut to a video package that featured video interviews with Johnson, as well as moments from his sole fight with Bellator against Jose Augusto Azevedo. This video was also played in the WinTrust Arena prior to the start of the main card.
Johnson died on Nov. 13 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare disorder of the immune system.
Johnson had been dealing with illness for over a year, forcing him out of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Johnson had previously posted a message alerting fans that he was dealing with illness in September 2021.
After making his professional MMA debut in 2006 with three fights on the regional scene, Johnson made his UFC debut in 2007 as a welterweight, competing in the promotion for five years before being released in 2012 due to weight cut issues.
After some time on the regional circuit, Johnson moved up to light heavyweight and returned to the UFC in 2014, where he turned heads and gained significant popularity for his knockout power. This stint in the Octagon was highlighted by finishes of the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira.
During this time, Johnson twice challenged for the UFC light heavyweight championship, both times losing to Daniel Cormier, including his last fight in the UFC before announcing retirement at UFC 210.
Johnson stayed out of active competition for four years until his Bellator fight in 2021.