Anthony Johnson is moving forward.
The past week may have been full of turmoil, but it’s fading fast. He has a fight coming up, and it’s the only thing on his mind.
“I’ve been focused on my fight and that’s all,” Johnson said. “That’s all that’s really been on my mind. I haven’t thought about anything that could possibly distract me outside of training.”
At UFC 191 on Sept. 5, Johnson will return to the Octagon for the first time since losing the light heavyweight title to Daniel Cormier. He’ll face No. 7 contender Jimi Manuwa, a big puncher who has 13 knockouts among his 15 wins.
“He’s a beast,” Johnson (19-4) said. “He has great power and good stand-up. He’s not afraid to stand there and bang. To me, that’s what makes this fight so entertaining, because everybody knows I’m going to try and knock your head off and he’s trying to do the same thing. We’re just guns blazing.”
Johnson insists he wasn’t concerned about a possible suspension after he became embroiled in a social media controversy a week ago. His Facebook rant following an incident with a woman at a gym led the UFC to conduct a third-party investigation.
On Monday, the UFC said it was “disappointed” by Johnson’s actions and said he would take part in counseling as well as make a donation to a women’s charity in Florida, where he lives.
“They did what they needed to do,” Johnson said. “They did an investigation, but I knew from the start I didn’t attack anybody, I didn’t do anything (except post) some stupid stuff on Facebook, and that was it.”
Asked what he hopes to accomplish through counseling, he said, “Whatever I need to get off my chest. They say I need counseling so I’ll do the counseling. Something good has to come out of it.”
Johnson said he took a few weeks off after losing by submission to Cormier at UFC 187 in May, but it was primarily to allow his body to heal. If anything, the defeat was a motivation to improve.
“After the loss, I was already thinking about what I need to do to get better when I was walking from the Octagon to the dressing room,” he said. “I needed to make adjustments to my training and get back in there and fight again and do better. It didn’t discourage me at all. It made me want to fight more.”
Johnson’s main problem was avoiding takedowns. Cormier, a former U.S. Olympics wrestler, pressed Johnson against the cage and wore him down with his grappling. He used a rear-naked choke to score a third-round submission.
“On every takedown, I knew the mistake I made as soon as he took me down,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘I know better than that.’ I should’ve been more mentally focused. If I had been mentally focused, I would’ve gone out there and had a field day.
“But it was Daniel’s night. I don’t take anything away from him. He’s a hell of a champion, and we’ll meet again.”
But that’s in the past. Johnson is looking toward the future and putting everything else behind him.
That includes his most recent trouble.
“I’m human,” he said. “Every day can’t be perfect. I’ve never said I was an angel, and I’ll never be an angel. I am myself.
“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. As long as my friends and family know who I am and they support me and love me, I sleep very well at night.”
Michael Martinez is a longtime sports journalist and former staff writer at The New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News and FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMMartinez