Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson: What We Learned from UFC 187 Title Fight

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2015

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 03:  Daniel Cormier is treated between rounds as he takes on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jones retained his title by unanimous decision.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The void left by Jon Jones' absence in the light heavyweight division will remain a difficult fix.

But after Saturday's main event at UFC 187, the 205-pound roster finally has a new champ to target.

On the heels of relentless grappling and outstanding conditioning, Daniel Cormier practically obliterated Anthony "Rumble" Johnson en route to capturing the light heavyweight title via a third-round rear-naked choke.

Here is what we learned from the ultra-important championship fight as DC solidified his spot among today's elite fighters.


What We'll Remember About This Fight

Cormier's pressure, persistence and ability to overwhelm Johnson were the main things we will remember from this title fight.

John Locher/Associated Press

Johnson was able to land in fashion when Cormier gave him distance, but he just didn't do enough in close quarters to ward off DC's wrestling.

Rumble's inability to push Cormier off him on the ground was also significant in this fight, which was a by-product of sapped energy and inferior technique.

All in all, the Olympian followed his cut-and-dried game plan to repel one of the best power punchers in the sport today.


What We Learned About Cormier

It's no secret that Cormier's pressure-cooking wrestling is arguably the best in the business.

John Locher/Associated Press

At UFC 187, he showed that against a super athlete with freak power and worthwhile takedown defense.

Even after eating relentless combinations, head kicks and body shots, Cormier pushed forward like he does every day in the gym opposite UFC heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez.

Everything that Cormier displayed on Saturday is what you expect from a ground-and-pound, grind-'em-out light heavyweight who apparently has an iron chin.


What We Learned About Johnson

Taking nothing away from Johnson and his return to MMA prominence, he more or less lied down for Cormier at UFC 187.

July 26, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Anthony Johnson (red gloves) fights Rogerio Nogueira (blue gloves) during the light heavyweight bout of the FOX UFC Saturday at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

He certainly had his opportunities to end the fight via knockout, but his lack of conditioning and inability to overcome adversity off his back ultimately cost him a UFC title.

We learned that if Johnson doesn't land those fight-ending power shots in the first few minutes of the fight, he'll fade when pushed.

It's unfortunate because he's one of the most likable players in the 205-pound division today.


What's Next for Cormier

If Jones is able to fight by the end of the year, then a rematch with Cormier is the only option at this point.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

But if the former champ is not allowed to enter the Octagon in the near future, Ryan Bader is probably the most likely to challenge Cormier for his first title defense.

It may not be the most entertaining choice because DC's wrestling will certainly take over once again, but Bader has earned his keep and was already scheduled to fight Cormier at UFC Fight Night 68 in June before the new champ filled in to fight Rumble.

However, if Alexander Gustafsson or Rashad Evans can get healthy fast, then one of them would serve as a worthy contender.


What's Next for Johnson

At just 31 years of age, Johnson has a long future ahead of him in the UFC light heavyweight division.

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

His power is crowd-pleasing and a staple of his game that will allow the UFC to successfully promote him in the future.

With that said, his conditioning was called into question on Saturday night, and he needs someone who is going to stand and exchange with him to get back on track.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson fits that mold to a T.


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