UFC 210 sees the light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier defend his belt in a rematch against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson on April 8th in Buffalo, New York.
Current champion Cormier entered the first fight as an underdog but upset the odds to seize the title in his second attempt.
His background is in wrestling and kickboxing but it is his wrestling that has really been his standout asset and will again be his key to victory in this fight. Cormier is an Olympic level wrestler having reached the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympics in Athens which explains just why he is so adept at retaining control in at close quarters.
As soon as he managed to take rumble down one minute into the second round, the fight swung in his favour. Demonstrating definitive control from top position he mauled his opponent for the following four minutes in a dominant round two. In round three he picked up where he left off and managed to close the show via submission with a rear naked choke. However it wasn’t all plain sailing as he had to endure a tough first couple of minutes to the first round.
Anthony Johnson hits like a truck, there is no doubt about it. He is probably the most explosive athlete in the UFC and that makes him so very dangerous early on as Cormier found out in the first fight. DC was hit by a huge overhand right just 27 seconds into the contest and dropped to the canvas.
However Cormier’s reaction was very good. He stayed calm under the pressure and quickly had locked onto his over zealous opponent as he waded in for the big finish.
Johnson’s mesomorphic body composition means he is ram packed full of type IIb muscle fibres which make him so dynamic but his physical advantages can also be his worst enemy; due to the inevitable symptom of fatigue associated with this and he soon was starting to breathe heavy under the constant pressure from DC.
Johnson will want to keep it standing this time around whilst Cormier will no doubt want to take it to the ground again and look to be all over his opponent like a rash.
Johnson boxing ability is not at a particularly high level but he has the power and speed and is likely to come off the better in the exchanges. His high kick with his lead leg and the overhand right had a lot of success in the first fight and he will look to utilise these again.
He needs to retain distance with footwork in the centre of the ring to avoid the takedown and draw Cormier in on the feet rather than being on the front foot and aggressively engaging all the time before falling into Cormier’s grasp.
If he was more intelligent in his approach he would be taught how to box properly on the backfoot. However he may not have the boxing IQ to do this. He also needs to be more selective with his kicking as each time provides Cormier with an opportunity to time catching one and scoring a takedown.
I would edge towards Cormier retaining his belt for two reasons. Johnson has too much faith in his power and this makes him reckless in his approach. He simply cannot afford to get overly aggressive and charge in on the feet as he all too often did in the first fight.
Secondly, stylistically DC is a nightmare for him because he is so strong at wrestling, negating and controlling position which is so energy sapping for his opponents. I see the fight going similar way to the first- Johnson dangerous early with DC establishing dominance later.
However that being said when you hit as hard as Johnson does you always have a chance to end the fight with a clean connection. That is why it is so intriguing and hangs in the balance.