Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight elites Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson clashed last night (April 8, 2017) at UFC 210 inside KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.
Even aside from the weigh-in controversy — which featured a sneaky bit of towel balancing by the Olympic wrestler — there were plenty of reasons to be invested in this bout. The Light Heavyweight title has not been put on the line in some time, but Cormier was finally back in the cage. Meanwhile, Johnson was just one punch away from capturing the crown. “Rumble” has made a career off flattening men in violent fashion, and last night the plan was no different for the knockout artist.
At least, that’s what we thought heading into this match.
Johnson methodically backed his opponent into the cage, using long kicks to land solid shots. Unexpectedly, Johnson shot into a double leg, but Cormier denied him and moved into the clinch. For whatever reason, Johnson hung onto the clinch, looking to level change into takedowns.
After several minutes of defensive wrestling, Cormier managed to reverse position and drive his foe into the fence. He controlled there for a few moments, but the continually odd part was Johnson. Late in the round, Johnson managed to break away and throw, but he still jammed his way back into the clinch on his own.
It was bizarre.
Johnson landed some decent shots to start the second round, but he was definitely slowing down. This time, Cormier took the initiative to clinch, driving his foe into the clinch and forcing him to work. Johnson reversed and briefly scored a takedown, but ultimately Cormier found his single leg and complete the first real takedown of the fight.
Immediately, Cormier was in back control. It took a bit of time, but Cormier wore his foe down with punches and eventually slipped in the rear naked choke.
I normally analyze the winner first, but Anthony Johnson’s strategy is far and away the most interesting part of the fight for a simple reason: It doesn’t make a bit of Goddamn sense.
Johnson opened the bout with hard kicks. Life-changing kicks. Each time he landed, be it an oblique kick to the middle or round kick to the leg, they made an immediate impact. He also nearly kicked Cormier’s head off twice.
Instead of maintaining that range and battering Cormier, he repeatedly dove into takedown attempts or the clinch. This strategy eliminated his opportunities to land the knockout and sapped his energy in the process, making it an unbelievably odd move.
Then, Johnson retired following the fight. He’s accomplished some truly amazing things, but he’s also had a very strange journey through weight classes and organizations.
Perhaps it’s a fitting end.
As for Cormier, his opponent largely handed him the win. He had to show off his trademark toughness and absorb some big shots, but for the most part he was able to engage in a wrestling match.
Shockingly, that favored the Olympic wrestler.
Following this win, Cormier is likely going to compete opposite Jimi Manuwa. There’s the potential for the Jon Jones fight, but who knows what’s going on with “Bones.” Either way, Cormier’s post-fight interview was one of his funniest moments yet, and he left with the title around his waist.
Are you not entertained?
Last night, Daniel Cormier slowly overwhelmed and then strangled his opponent. What is next for the Olympian?
For complete UFC 210: “Cormier vs. Johnson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!