Anthony Johnson has pleaded not guilty to a charge of misdemeanor domestic violence in Florida.
The plea was entered on Monday, according to a report from MMAjunkie.com. As a result, Johnson’s June 6 arraignment was canceled, and there will instead be a case deposition where the state will determine whether it will pursue charges against the retired fighter.
According to a police report, the alleged victim – who is the fighter’s ex-girlfriend -- claimed that Johnson picked her up and “put her in a football hold” to carry her into another room as she attempted to pack his belongings to throw him out of the house. The woman added that she was “scared due to his size and martial arts experience.”
Police confirmed that the woman did not have any visible injuries. The former UFC light heavyweight title challenger admitted to grabbing and carrying his girlfriend but claims that he didn’t have any intention of hurting her.
Johnson’s attorney, Michael Walsh, told MMAjunkie.com that the charges were “completely ridiculous.” Instead, he says that his client was simply trying to end an argument.
“Anthony Johnson, if he hits you, your grandkids are going to feel it,” Walsh said. “He’s trying to de-escalate her verbal argument. So he simply picks her up gently and puts her down. He simply did not want to argue anymore and put her in another room. That happens every day in America in domestic relationships. … It might be a domestic dispute, but it’s not domestic violence.”
Nonetheless, Johnson does have a lengthy history of domestic violence accusations, though he has only been convicted on one battery charge. He was suspended indefinitely by the UFC in late 2014 after the mother of his two children filed a police report alleging that she was receiving death threats from Johnson’s friends. In the report, she also claimed that Johnson knocked out two of her teeth when he hit her in the face in 2012.
“Rumble” was reinstated by the UFC in November 2014 when the complaint against Johnson was dismissed in Florida Circuit Court. The organization also claimed to have conducted its own independent investigation into the matter.
Also in 2014, an ex-girlfriend accused Johnson of stalking her at her workplace and on one occasion, lifting her by her shirt and grabbing her right arm. As a result, the woman was left with bruising on her right forearm and a reddish scratch mark near her right collarbone.” Ultimately, the woman elected not to pursue charges against Johnson.
Johnson was also arrested in 2009 following an altercation with a different woman. He was charged with domestic violence, battery, death threats and destroying a phone to prevent the report of a crime. Johnson would plead “nolo contendere” in 2010 to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence and was sentenced to three years probation, community service and domestic violence counseling.
Johnson, 35, returned from MMA following a second-round submission loss to Daniel Cormier in a 205-pound title bout at UFC 210 on April 8, 2017. “Rumble” won six of his eight bouts during his second Octagon tenure, posting victories over the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Phil Davis, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. He was 22-6 over the course of a professional career that began in 2006.