Daniel Cormier said he was planning to stand with Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 and go blow-for-blow with the scariest striker on the planet.
In the early stages of their main event rematch Saturday night, “DC” landed a big right hand that may have been an indication of the champion’s ambitious strategy.
But after a few exchanges it was “Rumble” who flipped the script and began looking for a takedown against one of the most dominant wrestlers in the history of mixed martial arts.
“I couldn’t believe he was going to force the wrestling,” Cormier said. “I was okay giving away the first round because I knew eventually it’d go my way.”
Cormier was right - Johnson’s decision didn’t pay off.
DC submitted Rumble in the second round with the same rear naked choke he used to win the title against Johnson two years earlier. After the fact, Cormier went full heel and took aim at Jimi Manuwa and arch nemesis Jon Jones who were both sitting Octagon-side.
The night belonged to Cormier, who embraced his villainous role and seemed to revel in it.
These are the UFC 210 Talking Points.
Cormier cements legacy
The man himself has said that his career won’t be complete without a win over Jones. But after his UFC 210 peformance, “The King of the Grind” proved without a doubt that he is one of the greatest to ever compete inside the Octagon.
Cormier’s run through the heavyweight ranks and his improbable rise to power in the historically great light heavyweight division places him among the sport’s best of all time.
Fans apparently didn’t agree, raining down boos on Cormier after he did what he’s always done, with the exception of one fight against the greatest fighter to ever live:
He just wins.
Jones now seems positioned to challenge Cormier for the title that he defended when the two last met inside the Octagon. But Cormier said, rightfully so, that he has nothing left to prove. He just loves to fight.
“I think this is what people miss when they think about Daniel Cormier. They go, ‘This guy is a TV guy, he talks a lot of trash and he messes around all the time,’” Cormier said. “They don’t really see the competitiveness inside of me. I’ve made a lot of money and I’ve done everything in this sport. The only thing I haven’t done is beat Jon Jones. I don’t have to do this anymore. I do this because I love it.”
He left it in there! @Anthony_Rumble retires after #UFC210 pic.twitter.com/uJwCjfqDoE
— UFC (@ufc) April 9, 2017
Sitting inside KeyBank Center after the UFC 210 main event, it was hard to feel anything but sadness. Anthony Johnson announced his retirement from the sport.
Rumble is one of the most entertaining and likeable fighters who ever walked into the Octagon. His smile combined with ferocious fighting style has endeared him to fans for years through all his ups and down as a UFC fighter.
Johnson leaves behind a legacy as one of the most skilled strikers to ever compete.
“This is something I had to do for me,” he said. “I love you all, this is my last fight. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell Dana White, my family and my friends knew, but I didn’t want any distractions. I enjoyed the UFC. Thank you, I will never, ever forget you.”
Questions remain for Mousasi-Weidman
The co-main event was developing into a great middleweight showdown between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi. Both fighters had their moments.
But when Mousasi landed a pair of knees to Weidman’s head in the second round, moves originally seen as illegal, the fight was ultimately stopped.
The knees were legal and Weidman maintained that he was able to continue, but the fight was stopped anyway after a confusing and controversial delay. The pivotal 185-pound contest was intended to determine championship contender status for the winner, but Mousasi wasn’t happy about the how the fight ended.
“It’s not the way I wanted to win and I wanted to continue to fight,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking, I was just in the moment of the fight. If he wants a rematch, he can have his rematch.”
Calvillo shines again
Cynthia Calvillo stepped into her second Pay-Per-View fight at UFC 210, in just her second UFC appearance. Pearl Gonzalez had a few moments, but the Team Alpha Male strawweight dominated the fight, submitting her opponent with another rear naked choke.
Calvillo’s head coach Justin Bucholtz said that his student is one of the best prospects to ever come up through the TAM system. With two straight finishes in a division starving for up-and-comers, Calvillo now looks to move forward against the toughest fighters at 115 pounds.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC