will get under way on Saturday, April 8th at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, headlined by a doozy of a Light Heavyweight Championship rematch between current belt-holder Daniel Cormier and challenger Anthony Johnson. Cormier claimed the vacant title over Johnson back at UFC 187 via submission in the third round.
Johnson brings a three-match winning streak into the bout, a career 22-5 record, and feared knockout power to complement his nasty demeanor. He’s delivered five sub-minute knockouts, which is most in UFC history. And despite only going the distance six times, Johnson has won every time the decision has gone to the judges.
The 38-year-old Cormier boasts an 18-1 record with his sole defeat coming to then champion Jon Jones at UFC 182 by unanimous decision. A rematch with Jones was supposed to take place in April of 2016, but Jones’ continuing issues outside of the octagon put the fight on hold indefinitely. Since beating Johnson, Cormier has vanquished Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva (in a non-title bout).
How do oddsmakers think this highly anticipated tussle will play out? Let’s take a look at some of the MMA betting lines.
Anthony Johnson -105
Daniel Cormier -125
Johnson will undoubtedly come out swinging as he does in most of his tilts. His pure punching power is rivaled by few in all of MMA. His style and strategy is simple: hammer away at Cormier in hopes of landing one of his devastating blows. It almost worked in the first match after he dropped an unsuspecting Cormier with a brutal overhand right just seconds into the opening round. However, things went south in a hurry due to Cormier’s ability to withstand the barrage, and he eventually wore down. The longer the fight goes, the more likely Johnson will get taken to the mat and submitted. The rear-naked choke has caused him to tap out in four of his five defeats, including the one executed by Cormier.
As for the champ, he can beat Johnson in several ways. His superior wrestling and grappling skills are as good as any, as is his overall stamina. He’s never been knocked out and does a fantastic job evading lethal shots, which are obvious Johnson’s forte. Unless Johnson surprises him with a different approach, Cormier will do what he did in the first fight: wait for Johnson to gas himself out, then take the big man to the ground and go for the submission. He possesses adequate power, but standing toe-to-toe with “Rumble” isn’t a recipe for success. If Cormier stays patient and keeps his defense up, he should retain the title, either by submission for unanimous decision.