Anthony Johnson Wants Ryan Bader First, Then Alexander Gustafsson

Written by Tom Ngo
August 19th, 2014

UFC Welterweight Anthony Johnson

UFC president Dana White said last week that he liked the idea of arranging a light heavyweight shootout between top contender Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson (pictured).

While Johnson is intrigued with meeting Gustafsson, he has a different opponent in mind for his next outing.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to fight in late October or something like that if there are any fights open,” Johnson told UFC.com. “I was hoping I could fight Ryan Bader in late October and fight Gus on the Jon Jones card (UFC 182). That’s my idea.

“People finally want me to start calling people out, you know what I mean? I never did that before. But I’ve always wanted to fight Ryan Bader because I’ve always thought he was a tough fighter.”

Bader is three days removed from an uneventful unanimous decision victory over Ovince St. Preux, a tango Johnson – and most of the MMA world, for that matter – said was “boring.”

If he’s able to get past Bader, then Johnson would be down to fight Gustafsson.

“It will be a good fight,” Johnson said of battling Gustafsson. “Gus is taller than me, but I think we have the same amount of length of reach. So it’ll be interesting,” Johnson said. “Gus likes to move a lot and I like to stalk people and see what they have to offer. It will be a hell of fight. I definitely want to give the fans what they want to see.”

Bader might be a matchup Johnson’s been eyeing, but why would Johnson pass on the opportunity to jump the light heavyweight line by facing the division’s top contender right now?

Johnson is one of the hottest fighters in the weight class, while Bader is rated three spots below him in the rankings at #8. Does Johnson think he’s not ready for the light heavyweight elite and would like another tune-up fight before getting the box office bouts?

Dana White – and most of the MMA world, for that matter – thinks he’s ready.

They say slow and steady wins the race, but this is the fight business where luck, timing and injuries oftentimes outweigh abilities. The time to capitalize is now.

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