NEWARK, N.J. — Anthony Johnson knew Ryan Bader wanted to take him down early in their UFC on Fox 18 main event. And when Bader did just that, Johnson made him pay.
“Rumble” Johnson put Bader away via knockout just 1:26 into the first round, earning his fifth win in six fights since returning to the UFC in 2014.
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“It was either going to be two things, he was going to play it safe or come right after me,” Johnson said. “And he came right after me.”
When the fight began, Bader immediately shot for the takedown almost everyone expected. But, he found a prepared Johnson who controlled position and took Bader’s back quickly. Bader attempted a kimura from the ground, but Johnson was able to fight it off and mount his opponent, nailing him with a series of right hands.
When Bader covered, Johnson swung with both fists, landing 14 total strikes from top position before the official stepped in to end the fight.
Johnson picked up the 10th knockout of his UFC career, putting him third all-time behind Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
The loss ended a five-fight winning streak for Bader that dated to 2013, while the win puts Johnson back in line for a title shot, most likely between the winner of a rematch between current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champion Jon Jones. That fight has yet to be announced, but it could take place as soon as April.
“Whoever has that belt,” Johnson said, “I’ll be coming.”