Two years later and not much has changed for UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson.
In almost an exact repeat of their first meeting in 2015, Cormier survived the early violence of Johnson to outwork him and force a submission in the main event of UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York.
Cormier (19-1) overcame a likely broken nose to force the tap at 3:37 of Round 2 via rear-naked choke at KeyBank Center. After the fight, Johnson made a surprise retirement announcement at age 33.
“I don’t have any excuses,” Johnson said. “I lost again to the better man. Props again to DC.”
Cormier won the vacant UFC title in May 2015 against Johnson by third-round submission after being dropped early by a hard right hand. This time he survived a wild flurry in Round 1 in which Johnson landed a knee to the stomach, left hook to the head and a hard kick to the face.
In the end, Cormier relied on his wrestling in a fight which was largely contested from the clinch along the cage. What was surprising was how often Johnson looked to play right into Cormier’s hands by unsuccessfully going for takedowns.
“I didn’t want to take that head kick but I knew that as we went on, I would eventually get to him,” Cormier said. “When ‘Rumble’ has that big burst then he starts to kind of panic. At the end of the day, he’s a wrestler so he went back to what he knows. He took me down twice so it was working but you have to keep me down once you get me down and that’s what he wasn’t able to do.”
Cormier, 38, made the third defense of his title by stuffing a Johnson takedown in the second round and forcing him back down to the canvas. After taking Johnson’s back with ease, Cormier landed a series of unanswered strikes before sinking in a choke.
“Boo me, I’m getting money and championship belts,” Cormier yelled at the crowd after the ight, playing up his role as villain. “What’s up?”
After the fight, Cormier turned his attention to a pair of light heavyweights who were in attendance: Jimi Manuwa and former champion Jon Jones, whose one-year suspension for a failed drug test ends in July.
“I told Jimi to stop pretending he wants to fight me,” Cormier said. “He don’t want none of this. Jimi, you can come in here with your bare knuckles and punch me. I will eat that. You can’t be me Jimi, you know it. Don’t lie to yourself. Sit down young man.”
Cormier then drummed up interest for a rematch with Jones, who defeated him by decision in January 2015 before being stripped of his title. A pair of attempts to book a rematch fell apart due to injury and suspension, including last July at UFC 200.
“Is that guy even eligible to fight yet?” Cormier said. “Don’t talk to me about a guy that’s ineligible. When you get your s-t together and you’re ready to fight, I’m here waiting for you young man. You know it. I’ve been waiting for two years. You got the first one but you knew after the first one we had many coming.
“As a fighter, I respect him but we don’t see eye to eye. He’s a great fighter but still not eligible. When he gets his academics in order he can come back to the classroom.”
Cormier also doesn’t believe we have seen the last of Johnson (22-6).
“I know that Anthony Johnson is not walking away from this sport,” Cormier said. “He has so much to offer to mixed martial arts than to walk away. People enjoy him. He’s a gentleman. Anthony needs to continue fighting. That’s what he was put on this earth to do.”
UFC 210 Results
|Daniel Cormier||Anthony Johnson||2nd round submission (Rear-naked choke)|
|Gegard Mousasi||Chris Weidman||2nd round TKO (Doctor stoppage)|
|Cynthia Calvillo||Pearl Gonzalez||3rd round submission (Rear-naked choke)|
|Thiago Alves||Patrick Cote||Unanimous decision|
1st round submission (Rear-naked choke)
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