Anthony Johnson's head coach explains why he was absent for retirement bombshell
"Where my coaches? I need my coaches to come in here real quick. Where's Henry?"
It was one of the most heartbreaking combat sports moments of 2017.
Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson was ready to make that announcement that nobody wanted to hear. As soon as Daniel Cormier was heard on the live broadcast saying his opponent should do his Octagon interview first, the crowd knew what was coming. They fell eerily silent in disbelief.
One of the most feared knockout artists in the history of the sport was about to hang up his gloves in his prime after suffering another demoralising title fight loss, and his coaches were nowhere to be found.
Head coach Henri Hooft received a lot of backlash on social media for not being there when his fighter needed him. Some jumped the gun, suggesting that Hooft was frustrated with Johnson's performance and had left the arena in a huff. He explained on Monday's MMA Hour that this couldn't have been further from the case.
“I got a lot of bad shit over me and everything. You know how it goes with social media. When everything is good, everything is good. Like, I’m leaving my fighter? I’ve never left anybody, especially me and AJ. We’re very good together.”
According to Hooft, he wasn't present because he had left to put on a new shirt. He claims he was very supportive after Johnson was submitted and hinted that he wasn't expecting Johnson to drop the retirement bombshell.
“Right after the fight, I was on the cage and [Johnson] came to me and said, ‘I fucked up,’ something, and I said, ‘Come on, man, I know it’s hard but get up, it’s already done.’ It’s what a coach says after a loss. “You cannot just, at that moment, talk about stuff. I was at the cage and said, ‘keep your head up, come on, let’s go.’ Then I stepped off and it was very busy in the cage, so I walked back to put another shirt on."
“When I was in the back, I heard that he was saying that he was retiring and looking for me and looking for other people, and I was like, ‘Oh shit.’ I was on my way back, then I saw him at the curtain (to return to the arena floor)... He cried with me and he talked to me and everything, then it really (sunk in).”
Thanks again AJ, for a wonderful career. Those cinder-block fists brought as much joy to the fans as they inflicted pain on your opponents.