Retired UFC veteran Anthony Johnson is planning a comeback.
Johnson, 35, intends to return to competition in 2020, according to his manager, Ali Abdelaziz. The plan is for Johnson, a former two-time title challenger at light heavyweight, to compete in the heavyweight division.
According to Abdelaziz, Johnson (22-6) will soon file paperwork to rejoin the UFC's mandatory drug program. The UFC's anti-doping partner, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), requires any athlete coming out of retirement to be subject to a six-month testing window before a return to competition.
Johnson and his team have already taken that requirement into consideration, as Abdelaziz told ESPN they are targeting a return in March 2020. Abdelaziz added Johnson is interested in potential fights against ranked opponents, such as Junior Dos Santos or Alistair Overeem.
Abdelaziz said Johnson was not currently granting interviews but probably would speak on his return in the coming weeks.
Fighting out of South Florida, Johnson retired rather abruptly in April 2017, immediately following a failed light heavyweight title bid against Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. On social media, he teased a potential comeback late last year, mentioning Cormier and light heavyweight Jon Jones as a source of motivation.
"Yes it's true that I'll come back to MMA at heavyweight, but only if Jones fights [Cormier] for the title!," Johnson wrote on Instagram. "It's a personal goal of mine to fight the very best of the best before I truly stop fighting. Jon was always my motivation once I went to [light heavyweight]. Heavyweight would be insane if the 3 of us were at it again!"
Cormier, 40, lost his heavyweight championship to Stipe Miocic earlier this month at UFC 241, and is contemplating retirement. Jones, 32, remains the UFC's light heavyweight champion. He has gone back and forth at various times regarding a move to heavyweight.
As a light heavyweight, Johnson was revered as one of the division's most powerful punchers, despite the fact he once competed as low as welterweight. He was scheduled to fight Jones for the UFC championship in May 2015; however Jones was removed from the card and ultimately stripped of his title after being charged in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico.