When Anthony “Rumble” Johnson finally makes his return to the Octagon since being tapped out by Josh Koscheck in November 2009, then subsequently sidelined with injuries, it appears he won’t receive any semblance of a warm-up fight helping re-acclimate him to competition in the Octagon. In fact, it looks like he’ll be facing a “Top 10” opponent who is a single bout removed from going five-rounds with Georges St. Pierre.
According to MMAFighting, the 26-year old has accepted a scrap with colorful Brit Dan Hardy for March 2011 at a yet-to-be-announced event with Hardy’s camp agreeing to the match-up as well.
Johnson was considered to be the future of the welterweight division after knocking out five foes in the UFC but has seen his reputation tarnished with the year-long break and related weight-gain after falling to Koscheck at UFC 106, as well as a few stumbles in the cage such as a TKO loss on the heels of an illegal eye-poke to Kevin Burns and a submission defeat to Rich Clementi in a bout he took on late notice. However, he holds wins over Luigi Fioravanti and Yoshiyuki Yoshida and remains a constant threat to any adversary based on his underrated wrestling, athleticism, and powerful striking.
In the form of Hardy, “Rumble” will be taking on an opponent comparable to Koscheck as far as in-ring success as well as an individual hungry for a win after dropping back-to-back fights. The Nottingham native is coming off a knockout loss to Carlos Condit – the first TKO of his career – in addition to being thoroughly out-pointed by GSP at UFC 111 but holds 23-8 overall record with victories over Mike Swick, Marcus Davis, and Akihiro Gono.
While three events are currently linked to March of next year, the specific card targeted for Hardy vs. Davis is Fight Night 24 on March 26. The show is scheduled for Seattle and also has a bout between Tito Ortiz and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira attached to the headlining slot.