Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier won the title by submitting Antony Johnson with a rear-naked choke in the third round of the UFC 187 main event in May 2015. On Saturday, the two fought in a rematch in the headlining bout of UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York, and Cormier put in a repeat performance from their first meeting.
Johnson is most dangerous in the opening minutes of a fight. The knockout artist knocked Cormier down in the first round of their first fight and landed a head kick on Saturday in the opening frame that may have broken Cormier’s nose. Instead of continuing to strike with the champion, Johnson decided to try and grapple the Olympian. It turned out to be a bad decision.
Cormier controlled Johnson in the clinch position and peppered him with short punches and elbows. In the second round, Johnson again tried to take Cormier down. He ended up being the one put on his back. After securing a takedown, Cormier took Johnson’s back and delivered punches and hammer fists. He eventually locked on a rear-naked choke, and Johnson quickly tapped out.
Following the fight, Johnson announced that he was walking away from the sport to pursue other opportunities.
“This is something I have to do for me. I love you all. This was my last fight,” said an emotional Johnson. “I have to thank you all for being there for me.”
“I gave my commitment to another job. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. It’s not MMA related or anything like that. It’s just time for me to move on to something else. I’m tired of getting punched by guys and rolling around with guys and stuff like that. Ain’t nothing fun about that,” he said.
After the win, Cormier praised Johnson and hoped that “Rumble” would reconsider retiring from fighting.
“I hope that Anthony Johnson isn’t walking away from this sport. He has so much more to offer to the sport of mixed martial arts. People enjoy him. He’s a gentleman. Anthony needs to continue fighting. That’s what he was put on this Earth to do,” said Cormier.
The champion engaged in a verbal back-and-forth with fourth-ranked Jimi Manuwa, who was sitting octagonside. The two continued their discussion for several minutes.
“I told Jimi to stop pretending that he wants to fight me. He don’t want none of this. He don’t,” he told Joe Rogan before addressing Manuwa directly. “You can’t beat me Jimi! Jimi, you can come in here with your bare knuckle and punch me. I will eat that. I will eat that. You can’t beat me Jimi. You know it. Don’t lie to yourself. I like Corey Anderson, but you just beat Corey Anderson. Sit down young man.”
Cormier then turned his attention to former champion Jon Jones, who as also in attendance. Jones handed Cormier the only loss on his record.
“Is that guy even eligible to fight yet,” Cormier questioned. “Don’t talk to me about a guy that’s ineligible… As a fighter, I respect him. We just don’t see eye to eye, so locking me in here, that’s a favor. He’s a good fighter, but still not eligible. When he gets his academics in order he can come back to the classroom.
Cormier was not a fan favorite in New York. The crowed booed several times during his post-fight interview. “DC” embraced the role.
“Boo me. I’m getting money and championship belts,” he said.