Daniel Cormier will defend his light heavyweight crown when he rematches the fearsome Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson at UFC 2010 in Buffalo on April 8. After beating Johnson via third round rear-naked choke to claim the vacant title at UFC 187 in May of 2015, Cormier has been restricted to just a single defense of the belt due to a number of factors. With troubled former champion Jon Jones watching on from the sidelines due to his suspension for failing a drug test, the light heavyweight division has somewhat stalled over the past couple of years, and this will be the first time the belt has been defended since 2015.
Having made a successful defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192, Cormier’s eagerly-anticipated rematch against Jones at UFC 200 fell through at the last minute when the former champion was informed he’d tested positive for a banned substance. While Anderson Silva stepped in at the 11th hour to face Cormier at UFC 200, the fight was made non-title belt and went further to cast a shadow over the current champion’s reign in Jones’ absence.
Cormier and Johnson had been due to meet at UFC 206 only for the champion to pull out with an injury. Now fully recovered, the two light heavyweights will finally meet again in one of the most intriguing fights so far in 2017, in which the 37-year old will begin with odds of around -125 with bet365 to retain his crown. While Cormier has gone the distance in his two fights since beating Johnson, ‘Rumble’ has reeled off three comprehensive knockout wins, all coming inside the first two rounds, earning his second shot at the light heavyweight belt.
While his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 182 may have proved that Cormier isn’t the best fighter in the world, the two-time Olympian has shown throughout his MMA career that he is definitely one of the toughest. It was his durability and determination that helped him beat Johnson in the two’s first meeting, recovering from a savage early knockdown to mentally break his opponent and choke him out in the third round. On the evidence of Rumble’s recent performances, it may be a similar fight between the division’s top two active fighters.
For the light heavyweight division as a whole, however, Jon Jones still looms large, waiting to make his latest comeback. Having endured a grueling couple of years culminating at UFC 200, almost all of which were self-inflicted, Jones is still widely viewed as being the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. When he does finally make his return to the Octagon, the former champion will likely be handed a chance at reclaiming his crown and given the winner of the fight between long-time rival Cormier and Johnson.
For now, though, Cormier will be desperate to prove some of his doubters wrong and rack up a second victory over one of the most fearsome punchers in the sport of MMA while putting all thoughts of Jones to the back of his mind.