It was revealed yesterday that former light-heavyweight challenger Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson is now facing UK knockout specialist Jimi ‘Posterboy’ Manuwa at UFC 191 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 5th. This will be a pivotal fight for both men, given the obvious title ramifications for each. The co-main event will mark Manuwa’s pay-per-view debut.
The possibility of a stand up war (which, should it occur, has ‘fight of the night’ clearly written all over it), appears to offer Manuwa the opportunity to showcase his full capabilities following his recuperation from surgery. But he does recognise the danger surrounding Johnson, coming as he does off his loss to Daniel Cormier:
“All UFC fighters are dangerous. Johnson is coming off a loss and he’ll be hungry like me to get to the top. I’ve been training hard so there will be fireworks.”
Given that his newfound training partner, Alexander Gustafsson, suffered a brutal loss to Johnson, one would expect there would be a sense of vengeance that Manuwa would like to exact. Vengeance that could possibly be fuelled by tips from Gustafsson on how to tackle Johnson, nothing could be further from his mind though:
“There is no sense of vengeance, their fight was their fight. I will be training out in Sweden at All Stars, not with Gus specifically though. He can’t give me any tips or insight that I couldn’t work out for myself as I was cage-side at the fight.”
Manuwa, normally very keen to do his talking in the Octagon, took time out to exchange a few verbal jabs soon after the fight was announced via Twitter = in which he might have scored a TKO with his humorous exchanges with Johnson:
Hey rumble @Anthony_Rumble u ready for the lion!!! This Gonna be a shoot out. !!
— JIMI MANUWA (@POSTERBOYJM) July 30, 2015
Speaking to Manuwa, I’m acutely aware of how respectful he is of Johnson and his ability. However, I get the sense that he is very secure in the knowledge this is a fight he will win, and subsequently realise his ambitions since signing for the promotion:
“After I beat Johnson I want to fight for the title. Deo volente, God willing I will win this fight. I’m prepared, I feel confident it’s my time to be iconic.”
With Manuwa being a fan favourite with very strong links to London, I couldn’t help but ask about the possibility of a Manuwa vs. the UFC light-heavyweight champion in London next year if all goes well, something it’s evident he’d welcome:
“I’d like to bring a title fight to London it would be a great way to win the title.”