Always living up to his nickname ‘Rumble’, Anthony Johnson was, in his prime, one of the most feared power punchers in UFC history, with a number of brutal knockouts to his name.
While he never won a title in his two stints with the promotion, ‘Rumble’ did plenty of damage and will always be remembered by fans and fellow fighters alike.
Here are five of Anthony Johnson’s most brutal knockouts in the UFC.
#5. Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida – UFC 104
Outside of his brutal knockout power, Anthony Johnson’s first stint in the UFC – which came, incredibly, as a welterweight – saw him become renowned for a series of weight misses that seemed to offer him a big size advantage over his foes.
One such weight miss came at UFC 104, when ‘Rumble’ could only make 176lbs for his clash with Yoshiyuki Yoshida, five pounds over the limit.
By the time the two men faced off in the octagon, Johnson appeared to be at least two weight classes bigger than Yoshida, who was, admittedly, on the small side for a welterweight to begin with.
It looked like a mismatch, and sure enough, it didn’t take ‘Rumble’ long to prove that idea correct. He backed Yoshida up in the opening seconds, hurt him with the first flurry he threw, and then demolished him with a right hand that sent the Japanese star flying.
Referee Steve Mazzagatti, renowned for letting fighters take too much damage, was quick to step in here, showing quite how violent a knockout this was. While ‘Rumble’ left question marks over his ability to make weight, there was no questioning his savage punching power.
#4. Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns – Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale
Anthony Johnson suffered six losses during his career with the UFC. While his defeats to the likes of Josh Koscheck and Daniel Cormier were relatively comprehensive, the same could not be said for his 2008 loss to Kevin Burns.
‘Rumble’ was actually winning their welterweight bout leading into the third round, when Burns landed an inadvertent but vicious eye poke that sent him sprawling to the ground in pain.
Believing Johnson to be knocked out, referee Steve Mazzagatti halted the fight in favor of Burns. While ‘Rumble’ appealed the decision, for some reason, the California State Athletic Commission allowed it to stand.
It was baffling and so, unsurprisingly, Johnson was given a chance to avenge the loss just five months later – and wasted no time in taking it.
‘The Fire’ again managed to push ‘Rumble’ into the third round, despite taking plenty of damage on the ground. In the third frame, when he pushed forward, Johnson countered with one of the most violent head kicks ever seen in the octagon.
Burns’ lights went out immediately and he fell to the ground as stiff as a corpse. Johnson had avenged his loss in brutal fashion, and in the process, he’d proven that he had as much power in his legs as he did in his hands.
#3. Anthony Johnson vs. Alexander Gustafsson – UFC on Fox 14
When Anthony Johnson returned to the UFC in 2014 after a two-year stint on the regional circuit, many fans wondered exactly how much impact he might have at 205lbs.
When he defeated Phil Davis and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his first two fights back, it was immediately clear that he was a title contender. However, nobody was ready for what he’d do in his third fight.
Matched with Alexander Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden – the home town of ‘The Mauler’ – most fans expected ‘Rumble’ to go down swinging. After all, Gustafsson had pushed the UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones to the limit and was widely considered the second-best 205lber on the planet.
However, those fans hadn’t taken Johnson’s scary punching power into account. Despite facing a hostile crowd, ‘Rumble’ took the fight to Gustafsson from the off. After suffering an eye poke, he fired back with a right hand that put the Swede on the mat.
From there, Johnson’s power took over as he swarmed Gustafsson mercilessly, backing him up with a flurry of big punches before dropping him with an uppercut. This time, he made sure, and finished ‘The Mauler’ off with brutal shots on the ground.
The victory shocked everyone, moved him up the ladder into the top contender’s spot, and proved once and for all that Johnson was a very genuine threat to the light heavyweight title.
#2. Anthony Johnson vs. Ryan Bader – UFC on Fox 18
After falling to defeat against Daniel Cormier in his first UFC light heavyweight title challenge in 2015, Anthony Johnson didn’t take long to climb back up the ladder. He bounced back by knocking out Jimmy Manuwa. By early 2016, it seemed like only one man stood between him and another title shot.
That man was Ryan Baderwho had steadily improved his game since a couple of bad losses some years before and given his five-fight win streak, he probably had as much claim to a title shot as ‘Rumble’ did.
The UFC unsurprisingly matched the two men together, reportedly with a title shot on the line. While it was clear that Johnson had the power to stop Bader, many people suspected ‘Darth’ Bader would have too much for ‘Rumble’ on the ground.
Unfortunately for the TUF 8 winner, he never had the chance to show anything on the mat, as Johnson ruthlessly took him out before he even moved out of first gear.
‘Darth’ Bader attempted a takedown in the opening seconds, but when Johnson sprawled to avoid it, Bader made the mistake of hunting for a kimura. ‘Rumble’ easily avoided that. Before Bader could react, Johnson took full mount and then pulled his arm free.
From there, Bader stood no chance. ‘Rumble’ began to smash him with some of the heaviest ground shots ever seen in the octagon. After a couple of big ones landed, Bader’s lights went out.
The knockout was stunning, as Johnson had usually tended to finish his foes on the feet rather than on the ground. It was proof that he was beginning to round out his game.
Surprisingly, though, he would face one more hurdle before a title shot – and produced an even more violent knockout there.
#1. Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira – UFC 202
While almost all of Anthony Johnson’s UFC knockouts were highlight-reel worthy, the one that stands out above all of the others remains his vicious stoppage of future UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira in 2016.
Most fans expected ‘Rumble’ to be awarded a title shot after his win over Ryan Bader. With then-champion Daniel Cormier’s schedule not quite matching up with his, Johnson was forced into another bout, this time against Teixeira, who was on a three-fight win streak of his own.
The bout was billed as a meeting of power puncher against power puncher, but just seconds in, it was clear who packed more of a shot.
Teixeira actually landed first, catching Johnson with a left hand, but before he could follow up, ‘Rumble’ threw a killer right uppercut that landed cleanly on the jaw and flattened the Brazilian.
Two hammer-fists followed, but realistically, they weren’t needed, as Teixeira was already unconscious. The bout lasted just 13 seconds and only cemented Johnson’s spot as the UFC’s consummate power puncher further.
Six years later, this knockout remains one of the most frightening in UFC history, and it should be remembered not only as Johnson’s best career win, but one of the best KO’s ever seen at 205lbs, too.