After ONE FC contract expired, Tony Johnson took Bellator offer over UFC

Heavyweight Tony Johnson will return to the Bellator cage on Friday night as he will meet former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in the opening bout of the Bellator 136 main card broadcast on Spike TV.Bellator136

Johnson (8-2) competed in the Bellator cage back in 2011 when he defeated current UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis at Bellator 46 by unanimous decision.

Since that victory, he has gone 2-1 and one of those wins came in the ONE FC cage against former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Following his contract with ONE FC expiring, Johnson received offers from Bellator and the UFC.

“I finished up my ONE FC contract and Bellator and the UFC came to the table. I saw more growth in Bellator,” Johnson said on The MMA Report Live. “The UFC just signed with Reebok and figured Bellator is more growth and I decided to grow with these guys. I was with them before and that was the old Bellator. This is the new Bellator and I decided to work with these guys.”

Why did Johnson see more growth in Bellator than the UFC? While he mentions the UFC apparel deal with Reebok, Johnson explains that the Bellator deal was better financially for him.

“They offered me a contract but number wise, it was better for me with Bellator. Like I said, UFC signed with Reebok and a lot of sponsors are jumping ship over to Bellator. Numbers wise and logistics, it was better to come to Bellator. Do you want the money or the fame? I have a family to take care of.”

On Friday night at Bellator 136, Johnson has a huge opportunity as he will meet the former Bellator heavyweight champion. Once Johnson signed with Bellator, he was given two options. The first option was to get a warmup fight and the second option was to thrown right into the top of the Bellator heavyweight division.

“Basically when I signed with Bellator, my management came to me and said ‘you can either get a warmup fight in or we can go right in.’ I said, ‘man I’m ready and let’s go right in.’ Originally, I was supposed to fight Cheick Kongo and something happened to that card,” Johnson explained. “He ended up fighting King Mo and they gave me Alexander. I said let’s do it. I do not care. I am ready. I train with Cain Velasquez. I train with the best in the world literally. So what else could he do to me? I am ready. Fighting Alexander is a honor but I tell people it’s my time now. He had his time and it’s my time now.”

Volkov (24-4) enters this fight on a five fight winning streak and his last fight in Bellator came in May of last year as he submitted Blagoi Ivanov to win the season ten heavyweight tournament. Johnson understands the level of striker he is facing on Friday and he has worked with boxing heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder to prepare for the range of Volkov.

“He is a really good striker. Let’s be real. He is a really good striker and he is real good about using his range. Like I said, I have trained with Deontay Wilder and working on my range with him. I do not foresee that being a problem and if anybody is going to give me a problem it’s Deontay, not Alexander. He goes right down the pipe with his punches and not a lot of looping punches. I do not know how much power he has behind them, doesn’t not look like much. That is the only problem I see is trying to get in on him. I have worked a lot on that in this camp. I have been ready for Alexander since January 1st. That is when I started my training camp. I have been eyeing him for a long time.”

Johnson wants to make a statement in this fight and show everyone at Bellator that he should be the next challenger for heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov. He plans to make that statement by defeating Volkov by either knockout or doctor’s stoppage.

“I want to knock him out. I am so comfortable standing and like I said, he can hit me as many times as he wants too and I am going to be right there. I am going to break his will. I am going to break everything. I am going to break him. I promise you that I am going to break him. I see myself knocking him out or I see it by doctor’s stoppage because when I take him down, it’s going to open him up with elbows. I have opened everyone up with elbows. So either by doctor stoppage or by knockout.”