It was a night of mixed emotions in Buffalo, New York at the conclusion of UFC 210: Cormier versus Johnson 2 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila). Daniel “DC” Cormier retained his UFC Light Heavyweight belt in familiar fashion after submitting No. 1 contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson with a rear naked choke (RNC) in the second round. In their first meeting, DC took Johnson’s back before forcing him to tap out in the third round via RNC. This was pretty much the same picture in the rematch, except that the end came much earlier in Round 2. But it was Rumble that surprisingly initiated the takedown, which in turn backfired on him, as DC comfortably did what he does best, which is to wrestle and control the ground.
— UFC (@ufc) April 9, 2017
But the biggest shock of all came after the fight, when Johnson announced his retirement from the sport. During the post fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, the 33-year old Rumble revealed that he was leaving the sport for another job, which was not MMA-related. He added that he had wanted to do that job for quite sometime now, but did not specify which job. Johnson received a warm applause from the appreciative Key Bank Center in Buffalo crowd.
Johnson actually had a good opening round, connecting with punches and kicks that appeared to have broken DC’s nose. But the challenger, who is most feared for his knockout power, opted to take down the two-time Olympic wrestler that later on proved to be a huge mistake. Rumble scored a takedown on DC in Round 1, something that very few fighters were able to do to the reigning champ. Johnson was also an accomplished wrestler in college. But Cormier loves the grind and excels in it like nobody can in the Light Heavyweight class. And he gladly seized the opportunity to impose his will on Johnson on the ground.
An ecstatic Cormier even had words to say to former champion Jon Jones and No. 4 contender Jimi Manuwa, who were both in attendance. It’s very likely that one of them will be DC’s next challenger for the strap that he has held for nearly two years now. Cormier improved to 19-1.
I went all out and don't regret anything…
I'm tired and the time is now for me to keep it moving…
Some say… https://t.co/RlIJUYEFNd
— Anthony Johnson (@Anthony_Rumble) April 9, 2017
In the co-main event, the exciting battle between former Middleweight boss Chris Weidman and No. 5-ranked Gegard Mousasi ended in a disappointing manner as a result of confusion over knees landed by the latter in the second round. Referee Dan Miragliotta ruled an illegal knee on Mousasi and gave Weidman the five-minute recovery time. But upon review of the tape, it was revealed that the knee strike was legal, as Weidman’s hands were not touching the ground upon impact. Worse, the Octagon side physicians were called to check on Weidman, and eventually ordered the fight off, giving the TKO win to Mousasi. Under the revised rules, a fighter cannot hit a downed opponent with knees or kicks if both his (opponent) hands are on the ground. Weidman’s both hands were on the ground but Mousasi did enough to slightly lift them before landing the knee. It looked illegal at first but repeated reviews clearly proved the move to be legal. Had Miragliotta known the strike was legal, he would not have halted the action that eventually led to a physician’s decision to stop the fight. Although wobbled by the two straight knee hits, it didn’t look like Weidman was not capable of continuing the fight.
— UFC (@ufc) April 9, 2017
Weidman was visibly upset after the decision as he absorbed his third straight setback since losing the belt to Luke Rockhold in 2015. On the other hand, Mousasi is likely to move up in the Middleweight ranking after scoring his fifth consecutive victory and improving to 42-6-2. Weidman drops to 13-3.
Meanwhile, Filipino fighter Jenel Lausa succumbed to the superior ground game of debuting undefeated Russian Magomed “Chaborz” Bibulatov in the UFC 210 Fight Pass prelims to lose via unanimous decision. All judges scored the fight 29-26 in favor of the highly touted Bibulatov, who is now 14-0. Lausa, a heralded boxer and kickboxer who is fondly called “Demolition Man”, failed to follow up on his rousing debut in the UFC last November after he dominated Chinese fighter Yao Zhikui with his sensational striking. Bibulatov landed a couple of takedowns in the last two rounds, where he controlled the fight for about eight minutes.