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Daniel Cormier confident Anthony Johnson will quit at UFC 210: ‘We’ve seen it too many times’

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Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the lead-up to their first fight, Daniel Cormier vowed over and over again that he would make Anthony Johnson quit.

His words ultimately proved to be prophetic, as Cormier submitted Johnson with a third-round rear-naked choke in May 2015 to capture the vacant UFC light heavyweight title. Cormier has held onto that title ever since, and though Johnson has revamped his grappling game to great success under the tutelage of coach Neil Melanson, Cormier is confident that the same outcome is inevitable when the two meet for a second time on April 8 at UFC 210.

“Yes, I do. I don’t ever change. He’ll give up. We’ve seen it too many times,” Cormier told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “And you’re making me be kinda mean to this guy when that’s not who I am to him, but it’s the truth. You can point to it, (Josh) Koscheck and me and Vitor (Belfort) and all these. It’s only the truth. I’m only speaking the truth, and here’s the thing, I’ll say it in front of him too. It’s not like I won’t say this in front of Anthony Johnson.”

Johnson has won a trio of fights since his unsuccessful title bid against Cormier, knocking out Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader, and Glover Teixeira in a combined 7:07 to re-secure pole position in the light heavyweight pecking order. Cormier, likewise, has captured a pair of victories, first defending his UFC strap in a legendary five-round bout against Alexander Gustafsson, then defeating former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a short-notice, non-title fight at UFC 200.

Cormier and Johnson were initially slated to run things back in December at UFC 206, however a torn adductor tendon forced Cormier to opt for surgery and postpone the contest. Still, the rematch between Cormier and Johnson was always destined to happen, as it was the only match-up that made sense for the current UFC light heavyweight division. And all along the way, Johnson has vowed to exact vengeance and finish what he started when he nearly knocked out Cormier at UFC 187.

“Truthfully, it just sounds like the same things that were said the first time,” Cormier said. “Before we fought, he said, ‘I can knock him out whenever I decide to knock him out.’ That’s what he said. He said, ‘Daniel knows what’s coming to him. I’m going to knock him out.’ And I just look at that and I go, okay, well, what happens if you don’t knock me out? What happens if you don’t knock me out? What happens if you hit me with your best shot and I continue to press forward, and I continue to engage you, and I continue to stay in your face the entire time? What happens then? And we saw what happened. He rolled over, gave me his neck, and let me choke him out so he could get out of the Octagon.

“People can believe everything they want. I love Mike Tyson. I was a fan, as everybody else was. The moment somebody stood up to him, he didn’t do so well. And that’s the same thing with Anthony Johnson. The guy’s a bully. He wants to intimidate you, he wants to dominate you, he wants to knock you out. But what happens when you don’t knock somebody out? What happens? I saw this guy beat Andrei Arlovski within an inch of his life in the first round of a fight. By the end of the fight, I thought Andrei Arlovski was going to win. Dude had a broken jaw, but once [Johnson] couldn’t get him out of there, Andrei Arlovski just had to do a little bit more and he could’ve won the fight. C’mon man. You ain’t knocking me out.”

While he awaits the start of training camp for UFC 210, Cormier has had plenty to do to keep himself busy. The 37-year-old Olympian travels to Brooklyn this week to serve as a color commentator in the UFC’s three-man announcing booth for UFC 208. Prior to that, Cormier’s role as an analyst for FOX Sports took him to Denver and Houston to work UFC on FOX 23 and UFC Fight Night 104, respectively.

With so much time being spent on the road, it’s fair to wonder whether Cormier is spreading himself too thin in the lead-up to the Johnson rematch. But all is simply going according to plan, according to the champion.

“This is my last one, in Brooklyn. So eight weeks to the fight, I’ll be done so I can have me an eight-week training camp, so it works out perfect,” Cormier said.

“These last four weeks that I’ve been on the road anyway, I usually call it a pre-camp, where I do four weeks of just kinda getting myself into running, and getting back into hitting pads and sparring light and just getting ready, as opposed to just starting early. Last time Anthony and I were supposed to fight, 12 weeks out, I just started going crazy, and I ended up hurting myself. So I think this is probably the best way. I get to kinda train as I can, and then I’ll have eight weeks of a hard training camp at AKA.”

Cormier said he understands if Johnson is a bit nervous about the amount of time left until UFC 210, given that Cormier withdrew from two fights last year due to injury. But Cormier ensured that he has adjusted his training regime to limit the wear-and-tear being done to his body.

He also admitted that he relishes fights like his upcoming one against Johnson in particular.

“Because I love the doubt, man. I love the fact that I get doubt,” Cormier explained. “Jon Anik is my buddy, and Jon is a big, big (betting) lines guy. So every time Anthony and I are supposed to fight, the lines come out, and it’s like we’re dead even. It’s like people don’t know what to make of a fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, when in reality it should be very easy to know what to make of a fight between me and Anthony Johnson. But everybody seems to question me in regards to fighting that man. And you know, I like the guy. He’s a great guy. I think he’s a nice guy, he’s a gentleman, he’s always nice, he’s always friendly. But in terms of us competitively, in the world I live in, he doesn’t beat me.

“He’ll still be able to fight for about 10 minutes, and then we’ll be good to go,” Cormier added. “There’s a difference in the training styles and the fighting styles of my team and his team. Right? So you saw Michael Johnson really get his hands on Khabib (Nurmagomedov) early, but after a while, man, that grind really starts to wear on you. And if you’re not built for it, you’re just not built for it.”