When I heard that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson will once again challenge Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 210, I got a little excited.
UFC officials announced the fight on Jan. 25 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. This will be the first time the UFC has been to the city since 1995 when it brought UFC 7: The Brawl in Buffalo to the Memorial Auditorium. On that same night, Brazilian combat sports legend Marco Ruas won the UFC 7 tournament and Ken Shamrock drew with Oleg Taktarov in their superfight title bout.
Unlike UFC 7’s superfight title bout, fans can expect a winner in the Cormier-Johnson II rematch.
Cormier and Johnson fought at UFC 187 for the vacant light heavyweight title. Jon Jones had been scheduled to defend the title against Johnson but the UFC stripped him of the belt after he allegedly fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident. After two rounds, Cormier submitted Johnson with a rear-naked choke halfway through the third frame.
Since then, Johnson has spent the last two years knocking down obstacles on his way back to title contention. He comes into the fight with two first-round knockouts – Ryan Bader (86 seconds) and Glover Teixeira (13 seconds) – and three “Performance of the Night” bonuses. He was going to challenge Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 206, but the champion withdrew from the fight because of an injury.
Johnson, who started his mixed martial arts career in 2006, competed at welterweight and middleweight – resulting in a couple of missed weight cuts – before he stepped up to light heavyweight in 2012 and that’s where his career really took off.
Six of Johnson’s last seven wins have been stoppages, so he certainly has the knockout power to finish any fight – as well as a wrestling background and strength that can bring any man to the canvas and keep them there.
That said, Cormier’s chin has withstood the power of athletes like Roy Nelson and Alexander Gustafsson. Cormier’s bread and butter is his wrestling, but he’s got good hands as well. His post-injury recovery could play a role in the fight as well.
Rematches can sometimes be a double-edged sword for promoters. If the first match between two fighters was a flop, there’s little reason fans would want to see bout No. 2, especially if it took place only a couple of months ago. If that first first fight was dynamite, there’s a chance the rematch could underdeliver.
However, there have been rematches between two fighters that were better than their first encounter. Here are just a few:
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II last year
Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II in 2005
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III in 2011
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald II in 2015
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate II in 2014 – (One of my personal favorites)
Cormier vs. Johnson will be an interesting fight and one that I look forward to seeing.
Now if you’re not sold on UFC 210 quite yet, there’s a fight between former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Strikeforce light heavyweight titleholder Gegard Mousasi that should be pretty good.