Veteran MMA fighter Anthony Johnson pulled out of a Bellator MMA title fight against Vadim Nemkov on October 16 due to illness, which appears to be a potentially serious ailment.
Johnson, 37, was scheduled to challenge Nemkov for the light heavyweight championship as part of the ongoing Bellator tournament. He announced via social media on Saturday, however, he will not fight for the remainder of 2021.
“I really wish I could go into detail about how sick I really am,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “I just know that I need as many prayers as I can and I will see you in 2022 God willing … I have never been so afraid of anything in my life, but I have stayed strong with the support of friends and family.”
Florida-based Johnson went on to say that the disease is not COVID-19, but did not release any additional information.
In a statement to ESPN, Johnson’s manager Ali Abdelaziz thanked Bellator officials for helping Johnson on the matter.
“We are just going to take all the necessary steps to make sure Anthony is healthy,” Abdelaziz said. “Health is our main focus. And I have no doubt that they will see him in the Bellator cage in the future. I want to thank the [casamentero] Mike Kogan and al [presidente] Scott Coker for everything. “
Johnson (23-6) is considered one of the most feared knockout artists in MMA. Johnson, a two-time UFC title challenger, made his Bellator debut earlier this year when he knocked out José Augusto Azevedo in May. He retired from the sport in 2017, but announced a comeback in 2020.