Domestic abuse accusation could end Johnson’s UFC career

Light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson’s Ultimate Fighting Championship career may be in jeopardy after a recent domestic assault accusation surfaced.

The UFC suspended Johnson indefinitely on Sept. 19 after the mother of his children received a restraining order against the fighter. Charges have yet to be filed for the incident, which is alleged to have taken place in 2012.

UFC president Dana White said Thursday the organization has hired an independent law firm to investigate the allegations against Johnson, who pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge against a different woman in 2010.

White has said the organization has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to domestic abuse. While he indicated their investigation has revealed inconsistencies in the story, including that Johnson may have been out of the country at thetime the most recent allegation is said to have taken place, he said the UFC won’t take any further action until the matter is resolved.

“Now you sit back and wait to see how this thing plays out in court,” White said. “It doesn’t mean he’s definitely going to fight here, even if it goes his way.”

Johnson, 30, has almost certainly lost out on the biggest fight of his career regardless of how the case is adjudicated. White said Johnson was set to fight Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of a card on Fox in Phoenix on Dec. 13 before he was suspended.

The winner of that bout would have been next in line to fight either Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier for the 205-pound title.

Similar situations in the NFL have brought a great deal of national attention to issues of domestic violence. White said that’s a good thing.

“In reality, all the negative that’s come out about this whole Ray Rice thing is actually a huge positive,” he said.

■ KENNEDY PLANS APPEAL — UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy is likely to file an appeal to the Nevada Athletic Commission after he was knocked out by Yoel Romero in the third round of their main card fight at UFC 178 on Saturday night.

Kennedy’s complaint stems from the chaotic break between the second and third rounds that gave Romero approximately 28 extra seconds to recover from nearly being knocked out by a series of uppercuts at the end of the second round.

A cutman employed by the UFC applied too much Vaseline above Romero’s eye, which was noticed by referee John McCarthy just after the whistle blew for the cornermen to get out of the cage for the fight to resume.

Romero’s cornermen did not remove his stool, allowing the fighter to remain seated. McCarthy and an NAC inspector signaled for a cornerman to return to the cage to wipe off the Vaseline, but according to NAC executive director Bob Bennett, that cornerman indicated he couldn’t understand the instruction because he did not speak English.

Eventually, McCarthy wiped off the Vaseline himself. Romero remained seated throughout the process. Romero landed a combination very early in the third round to knock out Kennedy.

Romero denied any cheap tactics were at play, but couldn’t say whether the extra rest helped him once the fight resumed.

“I don’t know,” he said.

White called it “the dirtiest trick in the book,” but placed some of the blame on the organization’s own cutman.

Kennedy took to Twitter to cite a Nevada statute that he says should have applied to the fight. “If an unarmed combatant fails or refuses to resume competing when the bell sounds signaling the commencement of the next round, the referee shall award a decision of technical knockout to his or her opponent,” according to NAC 467.728.

Bennett said he would review a tape of the situation to get a better read on exactly what happened, but feels Kennedy is unlikely to win an appeal based on what he saw live.

“Historically, if you look at the number of appeals submitted to our office and that have been (overturned), I think it’s slim to none if I’m not mistaken,” he said.

■ TUF 20 FINALE — The UFC announced the finale card for Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter will take place on Dec. 12 at The Palms.

The main event of the card will be a fight between two of the cast members on the show, which airs Wednesday nights on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329), to determine the UFC’s first-ever strawweight champion.

Tickets for the event go on sale Oct. 24.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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