Come Saturday night it will be the first time since 2011 that the Light Heavyweight division will have a new king. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had been looking to dethrone long time champion Jon Jones, unfortunately for Jones he has made a few bad decisions that will leave him out of the cage for the foreseeable future. Jones’ last opponent, Daniel ‘DC” Cormier came knocking when he realized that the opportunity for another crack at the belt was available, and now on May 23rd he will take on Johnson for the now vacant Light Heavyweight belt. This fight is between two very different fighters, not only in style but also in the path in which both got here. On one side we have former Welterweight knockout artist and on the other we have former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion, in a weird turn of events both fighters will meet at the 205 pound weight limit in what should be a very exciting bout.
Anthony Johnson’s career has been one that left myself scratching my head at times, you can marvel in his destruction of Lil Nog and Alexander Gustafsson, but I also have a hard time forgetting the once lightweight fighter Rich Clementi choking him out in the second round. Or if we want to look at his more recent loss, now teammate and fellow title challenger Vitor Belfort choked him out in the first round. Since that fight he has went on a 9 fight win streak that includes 6 wins by ko/tko and fighting the likes of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. It seems as though Johnson has found his home at 205, we always heard the rumours that the cut to 170 was too much, that the advantage gained from being the bigger fighter had diminished returns especially when it came to the cardio department. Johnson put on a masterful performance against Phil Davis, many, including myself assumed that since much lighter fighters were able to take Johnson down and tap him out that national champion wrestler Phil Davis would have no problem. We were wrong. Johnson fought a great fight, not being taken down once, using his powerful punching combinations coupled with his devastating rear head kick to lead to a dominating unanimous decision. In his most recent fight, in what was suppose to set the rematch between Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones, Johnson played the spoiler in Sweden and dismantled Gustafsson in the first round by TKO.
In his matchup against Cormier, Johnson should look to keep doing what he does best, that is keeping his distance and land strikes until his power becomes the deciding factor in the fight. Johnson is one of the best in the business at finishing fights when he senses his opponent is injured. The way he stalked down Gustafsson once he had him rocked was beautiful, Johnson knows he has power and it’s usually just a matter of time before his opponent finds out what it feels like. Johnson is going against a former heavyweight who has yet to see defeat come by the way of stoppage, Johnson will have to fight a very smart fight, he cannot get discouraged if DC does not go down. He has to make sure he does not fall into the trap of looking for the KO, as the saying goes once you start looking you will never find it. Though Johnson looked great against Phil Davis in stopping the takedown it was mainly because of his distance mangement, he never let Davis get close enough to him to commit to a shot, he was also using his uppercut to perfection by making Davis think twice about shooting for a takedown. If he can stick to his gameplan and control the distance I think it’s very possible for Johnson to stop Cormier in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Daniel Cormier has been given an opportunity that many fighters dream of, receiving a title shot within the UFC. The fact that he is now been given a second title shot, after whiffing on his first try, by losing to Jon Jones in a lopsided fight. The opportunity DC currently has is even more of a fairy tale. We will find out how this story ends come May 23rd. DC was an afterthought when the Strikeforce Heavyweight grand prix came along, he wasn’t even in the bracket, it wasn’t until the decision to move Alistair Overeem to the UFC that gave DC a chance to show the MMA world what he was all about. After a vicious KO over Bigfoot Silva DC went on to dismantle the veteran Josh Barnett, he capped his win off with a huge takedown tossing Barnett on his head. After he grabbed the title it was evident that DC was someone that had a good future in the world of MMA. His improved boxing partnered with his olympic level wrestling made him a tough match up for anyone, he showed that by easily going on a 4 fight win streak within the UFC before receiving his chance at the title against Jones. Jon Jones easily dispatched the underdog DC as DC was unable to get anything going and his wrestling was basically nullified the entire fight. While the fight wasn’t a great one for DC I don’t think we can compare the capabilities of Jones and Johnson.
DC has a distinct advantage in this fight with Johnson, his wrestling is on a another level and it will be key in this fight. DC will be the better “Mixed Martial Artist” in the sense that he is more tools to win the fight, DC will be smart to focus on his roots and look to lean on his wrestling throughout the entire bout. DC will want to keep the pressure on Johnson from the start of the first round, his greatest success will be had once he gets a hold of Johnson, using his strikes to set up the ability to clinch and get the fight against the cage, Johnson will always have a question mark around his cardio due to his past fights and DC will be smart to look to answer that question. Turning the fight into a grind will be where DC will shine, using dirty boxing and knees up against the cage, coupled with takedowns and trips to land his GNP and tire the powerful Johnson. As Mike Goldberg reminds us every fight DC likes to “embrace the grind”, and he will be smart to have that mentality, if he controls the pace and keeps the fight chest to chest DC should be able to either grind out a dominate decision or even possibly show off his underrated submissions.
I have flip flopped on who I think is going to win this fight, for it me it comes down to one major point. Anthony Johnson has to do something that no one has ever done, even heavyweights, and that is knockout Daniel Cormier. Whereas DC has to do something that men half the size of him have done multiple times, and that is takedown Johnson and control the fight. I don’t think DC will be able to get the finish but if he does, it will come at the earliest the third round. I expect DC to fight very calculated against the dangerous Johnson and grind out a decision that is largely based off of clinch work against the cage, similar to his fights with Frank Mir and Roy Nelson. It will be strange to have to another champion in the light heavyweight division not named Jon Jones but I see Daniel Cormier being the man to fill that void…for the time being.
*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results
The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.
An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.
The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.
UFC Winnipeg Official Results:
MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT
- #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
- Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
- #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45 round 1
PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT
- #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
- Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
- Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
- John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
- Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2
EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT
- Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando
The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 14, 2017
Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.
It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.
Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.
In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.
Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.
In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.
UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.
Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.
First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)
EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me that Eryk Anders (@erykanders) has gotten his wish. He'll headline UFC Fight Night: Belem against Lyoto Machida (@lyotomachidafw) in Brazil. Ask and you shall receive. #UFC pic.twitter.com/qX62A9qH6k
— The MMA Kings (Nolan King) (@mma_kings) December 14, 2017
Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.
Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.
Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.
In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.
UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira.
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