Bellator President Scott Coker wasn’t nearly as disappointed with Anthony Johnson’s debut as Johnson was immediately after Bellator 258.
A visibly emotional Johnson called his showing “a piss-poor performance” despite a second-round knockout of Jose Augusto on the main card of Friday’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena. Johnson was upset that Augusto dropped him in the first round before his concussive rally.
Coker attributed Johnson’s rocky start to a four-year layoff and a new opponent after Yoel Romero was forced out of the event.
“This guy has been out for four years, and I was just telling somebody else, I held another tournament back in 2011, and there was a kid named Daniel Cormier that was an alternate that came out of nowhere and started beating everybody up,” Coker told MMA Fighting. “Jose was that guy. He was very dangerous. He was on a four-fight win streak.
“When you’re training for an opponent like ‘Rumble’ has been for Romero, it’s a curve ball for him, too. I think it’s unfair to judge him based on this fight, because he’s been training for Romero, who’s primarily a wrestler, a grinder. Now you throw in a completely different opponent, and he got caught. Listen, everybody gets caught in this sport. It’s going to happen. But at the end of the day, he did what he had to do. He overcame the obstacle, he won in tremendous fashion. I think it was one of the biggest knockouts I’ve seen here in a while. Now, he moves forward to meet [Vadim] Nemkov. I don’t think he should be disappointed at all. I think the fighters are sometimes are their worst critic.”
Johnson’s next bout is against champ Nemkov in the semifinals of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix, which he signed on to this past December after a failed bid for the UFC light heavyweight title against Cormier at UFC 210.