For the first time since March 2011, the Ultimate Fighting Championship crowned a new light heavyweight champion. After overcoming some early adversity in the UFC 187 main event on Saturday, Daniel Cormier left the octagon as the new titleholder after submitting Anthony Johnson in the third round.
Johnson came out aggressively, as he typically does. He landed a winging right hand that knocked Cormier down in the opening moments of the first round. Cormier immediately bounced back to his feet and tied Johnson up. He changed levels and slammed Johnson to the canvas. Johnson got back to his feet and separated. He stuffed Cormier’s next takedown attempt and the round ended with the two working for position along the fence.
Things came unraveled for Johnson in the second frame. He moved forward and landed a right hand followed by a head kick to start the round. Cormier ducked under and elevated Johnson, then walked him to the center of the cage before slamming him to the ground.
Cormier stayed heavy in the half guard position. He isolated an arm, but gave up on the submission attempt. He delivered short elbows to the head and punches to the body. He opened up a cut on Johnson. In the closing moments of the stanza, the former Olympic wrestler advanced to side control. Johnson was slow to get to his feet following the end of the round.
Johnson pressed forward in the third round with a flurry. After slipping, he took Cormier down. Cormier got back to his feet and worked to get Johnson down. Johnson looked exhausted while he tried to get back to his feet. Cormier took his back and locked on a rear-naked choke that forced Johnson to tap out.
After the fight, Cormier had a message for former champion Jon Jones. Jones was stripped of the title following his alleged involvement in a felony hit-and-run on April 27. His last title defense was against Cormier in January.
“Joe Rogan, no disrespect to you Joe Rogan, or the 16,000 people in this arena, but I have a message for one man. Jon Jones, get your (expletive) together. I’m here waiting for you,” said Cormier before walking out of the octagon.
Johnson was gracious in defeat, making no excuses for the loss.
“Nothing was different. He did everything that I thought he was going to do. Daniel’s a beast. He talked a lot and he backed it up. I have no excuses for why I lost. He was just the better man. I have nothing but respect.”