UFC Light Heavyweight Title Bout: Anthony Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier
Odds: ( +110 Johnson / -140 Cormier )
Betting Pick: Cormier
In the main event of UFC 187, Daniel Cormier will square off against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the UFC Light Heavyweight title recently vacated by Jon “Bones” Jones. Cormier is coming off the only loss of his professional career, a one-sided decision against Jones. Johnson, for his part, enters the fight riding a nine-fight win streak which features a number of highlight reel KOs. Both of these guys got their start as wrestlers, but since then their styles have diverged a bit. Cormier is the big, physical bruiser who uses his size and wrestling to control position, neutralize his opponents, and wear them down. “Rumble”, for his part, is a much flashier and more effective striker who uses his wrestling more defensively and tries to keep fights standing, where he is effective with both punches and kicks.
This fight is going to come down to how well Cormier can set up his takedown attempts. He is a capable boxer who works well from up close in the clinch, but his striking lacks the fight-ending potential of Johnson’s more complete game. Where Cormier will enjoy an advantage are in the strength and bulk departments. If he can clinch up, set up takedowns, and spend most of this fight leaning on “Rumble” to wear him down and sap his strength, he’s going to be in a solid position to win. There’s little question that Cormier is the superior pure wrestler, but to clinch or take Rumble down he has to put himself at risk of eating big strikes or even getting surprised with a takedown himself.
“Rumble” is an attractive underdog pick because of his well-rounded game and his superior striking, but ultimately I think Cormier will prove to be too much. Training at AKA means that Cormier spends a large amount of his time sparring hard against bigger, stronger opponents. He struggled against Jon Jones because Jones is not only bigger and stronger, he also has superior technique and is difficult to take down. Against “Rumble”, who is the smaller fighter, Cormier can play his preferred bully role, using his size to push “Rumble” up against the cage and keep him from opening up spaces for strikes. I expect a very competitive fight, and would be shocked if Johnson gets shut down completely, but ultimately I don’t think Rumble will be able to handle Cormier’s size advantage and smothering wrestling. Cormier gets back in the win column and earns the title belt via unanimous decision.
Prediction: Daniel Cormier by Unanimous Decision.