It's the light heavyweight rematch UFC fans have been waiting two years for. No, it's not Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier II—although that would be way more fun—but Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson II is still a top-tier fight in an otherwise shallow division.
After Cormier won the 205-pound title by submitting Rumble in the third round of their first fight, a fight Jones had to pull out of and Cormier was a replacement in, Johnson is looking for revenge and a chance to wear UFC gold at UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York.
For Cormier, there aren't any easy fights when you're the champ. Johnson would arguably the most dangerous fighter in the division even if Jones weren't suspended. His sheer power and explosiveness are things the rest of the light heavyweight division can't compete with. Well, that's if you believe what Cormier has to say regarding the No. 1 contender, who he feels gives up too easily during his fights per Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour:
Yes, I do. I don’t ever change. He'll give up. We've seen it too many times. And you're making me be kinda mean to this guy when that’s not who I am to him, but it's the truth. You can point to it, [Josh] Koscheck and me and Vitor [Belfort] and all these. It's only the truth. I'm only speaking the truth, and here's the thing, I'll say it in front of him too. It's not like I won’t say this in front of Anthony Johnson.
Those are fighting words, Mr. Cormier. We'll see whether the champion can walk the talk a second time when they battle it out inside the Octagon on Saturday night.
|Cormier vs. Johnson II: UFC 210 Odds to Win|
Odds are according to OddsShark.
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Enough Talking Already
Some of my favorite fighters are the best trash talkers in the game. From Conor McGregor and the Diaz brothers to Joanna Jędrzejczyk and the hilarious Rampage Jackson, talking and getting into an opponent's head is a big part of any fight.
But enough is enough with Cormier talking trash about Johnson and Jones. It's overdone, and frankly, no one cares about mind games in this bout. We just want to see this fight happen already.
It's no secret that the winner of this fight will take on Jones once his suspension is up in a few months, which makes this fight feel like a title eliminator between two top contenders, even though Cormier is the champ. Similar to the way Jose Aldo is seen as the fake 145-pound champ because of McGregor, Cormier is seen in that light having lost to Jones previously.
It doesn't matter that Cormier has tried fighting Jones multiple times. Nor does it matter that he finished Johnson via rear-naked choke and outlasted Alexander Gustafsson in one of the best title fights in history. A rematch between Cormier and Jones must happen in order for the former to receive the respect he deserves as champion.
Having said that, he has to deal with Rumble one more time before he can even think of setting foot inside the Octagon with Jones.
Johnson is a menace with power in both of his hands and lethal body and head kicks that could stop any fighter in his tracks. He has found his home at 205 pounds after early experiments with the welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions.
He is in his sweet spot, and he nearly took Cormier's head off in their first meeting back in 2015 before gassing out in the second and third rounds.
But it's important to not fall in love with the knockout. And unfortunately for Johnson, he is a one-trick pony—even though his one trick is near-fatal.
Johnson is the slight favorite heading into Saturday, which is strange when you consider that Cormier finished Rumble on a short notice fight. Johnson's game plan is simple: finish Cormier early and keep this fight on the feet. Otherwise, Cormier will use his Olympic-caliber wrestling and grappling to bring this fight to the canvas and wear Johnson out.
Rumble will box with Cormier in the first and land a couple of decent shots that will remind the champ of the threat he poses. But in the second, you'll start to see Cormier fight smart and push Johnson up against the cage and put his weight on him. A takedown in the second round with a minute of ground-and-pound will give Cormier the edge going into the third as Rumble begins to show signs of fatigue.
That round will be similar to the second, as Cormier will score a couple of takedowns and open up Rumble's face with a barrage of elbows.
This fight won't go past the fourth round, as Cormier will take Johnson down with ease and punish him in side control with some powerful strikes that will earn him a TKO finish, defending his belt once again as the UFC's undisputed light heavyweight champion.