One of the biggest fights of the year is about to go down from the chilly tundra of Buffalo, New York, as UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier puts his title on the line later tonight (Sat., April 8, 2017) opposite Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside the KeyBank Center. Cormier already holds a submission victory over “Rumble” dating back to their UFC 187 meeting for the vacant 205-pound crown, but Johnson has battered three-straight opponents via knockout to regain his divisional footing.
In preparation for the impending rematch, we take a closer look at what both Cormier and Johnson need to do in order to leave New York with the title around their waist. Here are the keys to victory for tonight’s UFC 210 main event combatants.
1. Don’t throw early...
If Cormier is really going to stand and trade with Johnson in the center of the Octagon it’s going to be a very long night for the champ. Cormier could have easily said he’s going to strike with “Rumble” on the feet to mess with him mentally, but there’s a good chance that “DC” opts to throw hands straight out of the gate.
At the end of the day, Cormier knows that Johnson’s biggest weapon is his punching power. Standing in the pocket and trading isn’t going to bode well for “DC,” although he fought throw the titanic shot “Rumble” landed early into their first encounter.
Instead, Cormier needs to sap Johnson’s power over the course of the first few rounds and then find his spots on the feet later in the fight. As a fighter who often gases quickly, Johnson is going to present more openings for Cormier to attack as the fight drags on. Keeping his head on straight and waiting for those windows on the feet will give Cormier the best chance to do damage with his standup.
2. Rinse and repeat...
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s exactly the sort of approach Cormier should lean on for his rematch with the best knockout artist in the game. The champion could obviously throw in a few extra attacks and offensive advancements than he did in the first fight, but why would “DC” stray from the same gameplan he put forth at UFC 187?
Johnson has really tried to work on his conditioning and wrestling defense leading into the rematch, but it’s likely that his efforts will fall by the wayside when Cormier gets a hold of him and drops him on his head. Cormier is easily one of the best ground-and-pound specialists the light heavyweight division has ever seen and it’s crazy to think he wouldn’t be able to follow the script once again opposite a seething power puncher.
Once Cormier finds himself in trouble or if he believes the fight isn’t going his way, he’ll quickly switch over to wrestling mode, do exactly what he did in the first fight, drag Johnson to deep water, suffocate him on the ground with heavy elbows from top position and wait for “Rumble” to give him his back.
1. Reserve his power...
There’s no disputing the fact that “Rumble” possesses the natural punching power to finish any light heavyweight in the world. This includes Cormier, Jon Jones, and just about any fighter who has ever weighed in at 205 pounds. But that doesn’t mean Johnson’s ability to land knockout shots stays with him throughout an entire fight. Instead, Johnson often exhausts his power early into fights and limits his effectiveness later on.
In his rematch with Cormier this evening at UFC 210, Johnson will need every ounce of punching power late into the bout. Cormier is not an easy target to catch and finish, especially when he’s in control of the fight, so Johnson is going to have to reserve some of his power and make sure he can land a crushing blow in the championship rounds (if it comes to it).
If Johnson is unable to retain his biggest weapon past the first 10 minutes of action, he may run out of breathing room like he did at UFC 187.
2. Stay on his feet...
If only Johnson can stay on his feet he’d be nearly unbeatable. Unfortunately for the hard-hitting light heavyweight, Cormier is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever grace the center of the Octagon. Keeping him off of you is no easy task, especially for a power puncher like ‘Rumble’ who often overextends on his strikes.
With that said, fighters have stuffed Cormier’s advancements before, specifically Alexander Gustafsson. While Gustafsson has become one of the better takedown defenders in the sport, Johnson can take a page of the Swede’s book in positioning himself correctly along the cage to ward off Cormier’s takedown advancements. If he can leverage his natural power and use his athleticism to explode off the cage or off his back then maybe Johnson can reverse the tides here and there.
Prediction: Cormier via third-round TKO
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 210 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.