Many UFC fans expected Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to deliver a stunning performance on Saturday night against Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. So much, in fact, that Johnson was the betting favorite heading into the fight. What he ended up delivering, though, was certainly stunning, just not in the way anyone expected.
While Johnson did go after Cormier with flurries of potentially lethal punches and loaded kicks as expected, he also initiated several wrestling exchanges with the former Olympic wrestler. Johnson was able to take Cormier down briefly, but Cormier was able to bounce right back up and capitalize on a tired Johnson to score the submission win.
This was definitely not part of the strategy as has been revealed by corner audio available through the UFC.tv feed of the event. Johnson’t striking coach Henry Hooft was not shy about his displeasure with Johnson’s choice to wrestle Cormier. Hooft can be heard yelling “Don’t wrestle him” on multiple occasions followed by “This is stupid” when Johnson continued to grapple. Another voice from Johnson’s corner can be heard asking “Why is he wrestling?” and “Why isn’t he listening?”
After Hooft reminded Johnson of their strategy to stand and strike from a distance in between rounds, Johnson went back out for the second round and again initiated wrestling exchanges with Cormier. When Cormier took an exhausted Johnson’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke to finish the fight, Hooft can be heard saying, “It’s going the same as last time,” followed by “Why does this happen every time?”
This sequence of events may explain why Johnson had to call for his corner men to return to the cage as he was making his retirement announcement.
What hasn’t been explained yet is why he took that approach to the fight in the first place.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Even the most casual of UFC fan could see that Johnson wrestling Cormier wasn’t going to be an effective strategy. Everyone knew that Johnson had to avoid getting tired and land big shots in order to beat Cormier. Wrestling Cormier was only going to expedite Johnson’s exhaustion and give Cormier an opportunity to take a submission, which is exactly what happened. Cormier felt that Johnson was looking for a way out of their fight last time out, and perhaps that’s what happened again. Another potential explanation is that Johnson was rattled by the big overhand right he took from Cormier early in the fight and he felt he needed to wrestle in order to give himself time to clear his head. Johnson may have felt as if he was at risk for being knocked out if he took another one of those big punches. It’s disappointing that Johnson’s corner was so frustrated with him that they left him alone in the cage when he was about to make his retirement speech, but he also did everything they told him not to do.
MONDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Anthony Johnson posted a message to his Instagram account thanking fans for support throughout his MMA career, while not shedding any more light on what may be next for him. The message reads: “Hello Monday! A new beginning starts today and I am so happy about that… My body can recover and I can focus on something different other than MMA. My life has been amazing and I haven’t come close to scratching the surface. I’ll miss MMA and every aspect of the game, but my time is over and I’m ready to watch TBD new generation take over. Now I can be Anthony Johnson/A.J. and not Anthony Rumble Johnson! Thank you all for the love and support throughout the yearrs… Rumble Squad forever! #RumbleSquad The End of Rumble.”
Hello Monday! A new beginning starts today and I am so happy about that… My body can recover and I can focus on something different other than mma. MY life has been amazing and I haven't come close to scratching the surface. I'll miss mma and every aspect of the game, but my time is over and I'm ready to watch the new generation take over. Now I can be Anthony Johnson/AJ and not Anthony Rumble Johnson! Thank you all for the love and support throughout the yrs… Rumble Squad forever! #RumbleSquad The End of Rumble
-Dana White confirmed to press on Saturday that he has been in talks with Floyd Mayweather’s camp regarding a boxing match with Conor McGregor and that he expects the fight to happen, but it is “not close” at this time.
–Luke Rockhold told TSN in Canada that he thinks an Interim UFC Middleweight Championship is warranted while Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping continue to wait for a date to be set for their fight. Rockhold said he wants the interim title match so that the winner can be guaranteed a title shot after what he calls “two irrelevant title fights back to back” for champion Michael Bisping.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SUNDAY NEWS DIGEST 4/9: UFC 210 ends with a shocking retirement and a complete mess of a decision (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)