Following his dominant victory over Dan Hardy at UFC Fight Night 24, Anthony Johnson told members of the media that he wanted John Howard next, because he’s the one fighter he “hates.” Well, “the feeling is mutual,” says John Howard. He “hates” him too after Johnson more or less called him a coward after he turned down a fight with him early in his career. Howard talking to MMA Weekly:

“He started the beef about a year ago,” Howard explained. “What happened was, (the UFC) offered the fight to me for my second fight in the UFC. And I told them, ‘no, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m still new in the UFC and I still want to be making some money out of it, and don’t want to be fighting some of the top 20 guys already.’ He took it like, oh, I was scared, I’m a (expletive), I’m a (expletive) and all this. And then call me a ‘cotton picker.’ I got really uptight about that… The beef is real. I can’t stand that cat. I hate that kid. The feeling is mutual.”

Not surprisingly, Howard agreed with fans and writers who didn’t care for the tactics Johnson used to beat Hardy last weekend. He thinks Johnson should have put his money where his mouth was.

“He talks all this (expletive), ‘yo, I’m going to stand and bang,’” he said. “What’d he do? He (expletive) out and took him down. I’m not saying it wasn’t a smart strategy. Maybe it was, but don’t come up like, ‘oh, I’m going to stand and bang. I’m a hardcore mother (expletive).’ And then when push comes to shove, you take down and you go the (expletive) way out.

“At least, when I fought Thiago, yes, Thiago beat me, but I stood and banged with a mother (expletive).”

I have to side with Howard on this one (although I’m not nearly as fired up about it as he is). It’s not that Johnson took the safest path to victory against Dan Hardy last weekend, it’s that he explicitly went on the conference call and said, “This fight ain’t going to the ground.  Man, you’re talking to two guys that love to bang,  plain and simple.  We don’t like that  lovey dovey stuff… So you’re not getting that from me – hell no.” And what did Johnson do the first chance he got? He took it to the ground and made sure it stayed there the entire fight. Perhaps, it was pre-fight misdirection tactic on his part, but nevertheless, if you’re going to make a guarantee to the fans that you’re going to fight a certain way, don’t surprised when they’re pissed at you afterwards for doing the exact opposite. Anytime you set certain expectations and you don’t deliver, people are going to walk away angry and disappointed.

As for a potential fight between these two love birds, nothing has been set yet, but Howard promises “it’s about to get real ugly,” so I’m sure it won’t be long before Joe Silva puts them in the cage together so they can pound out their differences once and for all.

Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog