A 38-year-old Daniel Cormier sent the 33-year-old Anthony Johnson into retirement. Yes, that statement is the right way around.
The light-heavyweight champion retained his belt, and status among the very best in MMA, after he sunk in a second-round rear-naked choke to defeat Johnson for a second time in the main event of UFC 210 in Brooklyn.
But while Cormier moves on to a potential clash with either the returning Jon Jones or rising contender Jimi Manuwa, ‘Rumble’ is simply moving on entirely.
Indeed, after missing out on a the 205lbs belt for a second time, Johnson shocked the MMA world by announcing his retirement from the sport post fight. Despite being in the prime of a lucrative career, Johnson is keen to pursue his options outside of the fight game.
“It’s just business,” he said. “I want to do something besides going to the gym everyday punching and kicking and rolling around with another dude. That s*** gets old. I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve been in sports since I was eight, it’s just time to move on to something different. I won’t say better, but just different.”
If the decision to retire is a little perplexing, Rumble’s gameplan on Saturday was even more confusing. Having come into the fight on the back of three straight first-round knockouts limiting him to just seven minutes of Octagon action combined, he opted to try and wrestle an Olympic wrestler.
Instead of staying on the outside and looking to counter with power, he opted to utilise a clinch game and although it worked to some degree in the first session, it proved to be his downfall in the second.
As Johnson again closed the distance, Cormier worked a trip before smothering his downed opponent and transitioning to take control of his back.
From there it was a case of deja vu as Cormier went to work on locking in a choke and once in position, he forced the tap from Johnson just like he did in their first clash at UFC 187. Afterwards, Cormier turned his attentions to two contenders waiting in the wings.
“He’s a tough guy. He punches hard. I like his little thing, ‘One shot, one kill,’” Cormier said of Manuwa. “It sounds cool. He wears sweatsuits. A guy that wears sweatsuits is pretty cool. But Jimi Manuwa can’t do me anything. Dude’s done. Jimi Manuwa would be lucky to get out 10 minutes. Seven minutes. I would demoralise him.”
There is, of course, Jones. Cormier has a legitimate shout in the pound-for-pound discussion but his UFC 182 defeat to Jones still remains the sole blemish on his record.
With Jones set to return from a USADA suspension in July, Cormier is open to setting up the long-awaited rematch as he said: “Of course I’d fight Jon Jones but Jimi Manuwa said that he wants a title fight. “He’s won a couple of fights in a row and looked impressive. I think he’s a good fighter but it kinda depends on what they do with Jones. If Jones wants to fight somebody first then I guess that’s what they’re gonna do. If he’s ready to come and fight me then we would fight.”
The unpredictable nature of UFC 210 was supplanted by the controversy which reigned over the comain event clash between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi.
The Dutchman made it five straight wins but a mixture of bad officiating and a New York State Athletic Commission still in the fledgling stages of overseeing MMA fights, marred his second-round TKO win.
After former middleweight champ Weidman had taken the opening round on the strength of his takedowns, Mousasi came back strong in the second. He blitzed Weidman with sharp combinations before landing hard knees to the head.
However, referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in midway through the barrage and stopped the fight thinking the knees were illegal. He awarded Weidman five minutes to recover but chaos ensued as it was later discovered both knees were legal blows and the contest was ended with Weidman deemed unfit to continue.
The distraught American called for an immediate rematch and Mousasi responded by saying: “If he wants his rematch, I can give it to him. But at the end of the day, I’m chasing the title. If I fight (Michael) Bisping, I think I would be the favorite.
“It’s up to UFC. If they want to make (a rematch), make it in Holland. Sure, why not? The crowd was on his side this time. He fights me in Holland, the crowd would be on my side.”