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Bellator 258: Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson prioritising ‘fun’ fights over titles ahead of return from four-year layoff

BELLATOR new-boy Anthony Johnson is no ​longer motivated by winning world titles - he simply just wants to have fun.

The two-time UFC light-heavyweight title challenger will return to the cage for the first time in over four years early on Saturday morning in the main event of Bellator 258 in Connecticut.

But at the age of 37, becoming a world champion is no longer at the forefront of Rumble's mind.

He told SunSport: "At first, I wanted to compete and win a world title because I knew I was supposed to win a world title. I felt it.

"But now, it's just about having fun and doing my best and seeing what happens.

"I'm not gonna put that pressure on myself and say, 'Oh you need to win a world title. You need to do this, you need to do that.'

"Nah. I done did that already. I done put that type of pressure on myself.

"Now, it's about living my life and having as much fun as I can and keeping the fans and the organisation excited."

Johnson was lined up for an extremely fun fight for his debut in Bellator's light-heavyweight Grand Prix, in which he was scheduled to meet fellow MMA vet Yoel Romero.

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Romero, however, was forced to withdraw from the mouthwatering contest due to an undisclosed medical issue.

Jose Augusto Barros has stepped in for The Soldier of God, although his filling in for the Cuban hasn't stopped Johnson from thinking about what might've been.

He said: "It gutted me, man, because I had been training so hard to fight that man on the other side of the octagon who was supposed to be Yoel Romero. He's a beast.

"Plus the fans were so into it and the organisation were kind of counting on it. We were going to shut it down.

"We were going to have everybody tuning in to watch this fight. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

"And as I said previously, I wish Yoel the best and I hope he recovers from whatever the issue may be."

As is the case when any fighter returns from a lengthy lay-off, ring rust has been a hot topic ahead of Johnson's comeback.

Johnson is under no illusions of the potential effects of rustiness but is confident it won't be too much of a factor in his Bellator bow.

The Atalanta native said: "I do believe in ring rust. If you got it, you got it. And if you don't, you don't.

"I'm not saying I'm that dude that got it, but like I said, watch the fight and you'll see."

Johnson will have his hands full with Brazilian Barros, who is flying high on an impressive five-fight win streak.

The vicious knockout artist is refusing to underestimate Gugu, saying: "There's no man on the planet that has a five-fight win streak that isn't confident.

"So that makes him dangerous.

"Plus he has everything to gain and nothing to lose. That man is hit right now. So I've got to make sure I'm sharp. That's what I've gotta do."

When asked to make a prediction for the fight, he added: "Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson. What are you talking about, man?

"I'm not taking anything away from Jose, though. He's a beast, he's a good fighter for sure.

"People don't know who he is but he's a good fighter. And I want everybody to know that he's a good fighter."

Watch Anthony Johnson in action at Bellator 258: Archuleta vs. Pettis live on BBC iPlayer from 10:30pm BST on Friday, May 7

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