Aside from some minor jabs back and forth in the lead up to UFC 210, No. 1 ranked light heavyweight contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and champion Daniel Cormier have been pretty cordial with one another.
There’s a mutual respect between the two fighters and even when doing a media tour last year to promote their originally scheduled bout in December, Johnson and Cormier were complimentary of each other and really friendly despite preparing to face off in the Octagon.
Last week during the UFC 210 media conference call that demeanor seemed to change when Cormier attacked Johnson for only having the chance to beat him in the first round before taking a shot at his opponent by saying that if he doesn’t win by knockout, there’s absolutely zero chance he’s walking out of the arena with the title on Saturday night.
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Johnson kept his cool during the call but fired back at Cormier when speaking to FOX Sports a day later.
“DC will always talk. I just found out he just talks. I kind of figured it out. He talks just to hear himself talk,” Johnson told FOX Sports. “I know he wants to be that guy that’s a big time promoter and all this other stuff, but I think he’s his own biggest cheerleader and his worst promoter for sure.
“People don’t believe half the [expletive] he says.”
One of the items that Johnson specifically points to is the fact that Cormier has stated he doesn’t need to use his Olympic-level wrestling and could instead stand and trade punches with arguably the most vicious knockout striker in the UFC today.
Johnson didn’t buy that the first time Cormier said it and he’s certainly not believing it now just days away from the fight. He feels it’s just more chatter from Cormier trying to get into his head, but instead of listening to the light heavyweight champion blather on about his strategy, Johnson prefers to just tune him out altogether.
“Everyone knows if he gets hit or even if he doesn’t get hit, he’ll go in for the takedown,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of what he’ll do. He’s a wrestler. That’s where his heart is and that’s just the truth. He’s not the most exciting fighter, but what he does gets the job done.
“DC can say whatever he wants to say. That [expletive] don’t bother me.”
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Johnson isn’t trying to get into a war of words with Cormier because he’s just not into trash talking all that much.
That said, Johnson has no problem giving his honest opinion of Cormier’s most recent performances against Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva.
“He fought how DC fights,” Johnson said about Cormier’s latest UFC showings. “His usual grinding that’s just what he does. He’ll land a couple punches and then try to take you down and try to beat you up on the ground and wear you out. That’s usually how he does it.
“With [Gustafsson], that was an extremely close fight. I thought Gus won honestly. This is the second time I thought Gus won the title so maybe my judgment is kind of off.”
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As far as the fight with Silva at UFC 200, Johnson acknowledges that Cormier was in an impossible situation after accepting the matchup on 48-hours notice when former champion Jon Jones was pulled off the card after testing positive for a banned substance.
Still, Johnson can’t help but critique the performance considering how he feels Cormier looked while taking on an undersized opponent, who had no training whatsoever to get ready for a bout with the UFC light heavyweight champion.
“The thing with Anderson [Silva], I thought DC fought safe to a degree. He fought safe but then he came up looking like [expletive],” Johnson said. “It wasn’t his best performance. But like he said, that was the easiest fight of his career so if that was the easiest fight of your career then all right then.
“If that’s what you look like in the easiest fight of your career then you’re definitely going to have a hard time with me.”
All those words aside, Johnson truly believes that Saturday night will be his crowning achievement as he looks to avenge his prior loss to Cormier while taking home his first ever UFC title.
Nothing he says ahead of the fight is going to change the outcome, but Johnson promises that he’s going to look better than ever before when he finally gets his second shot at UFC gold.
“It comes to a point where you get tired of talking. I’m not DC. I don’t want to do all this talking to make myself look like Billy Bad Ass. I go in and I fight and I do my best, win or lose,” Johnson said. “That’s just what it is with me. I don’t go in there half-assing. Either I’m going out on my shield or you’re going out on your shield. That’s just what it is.
“I go out there and fight. I see an opening, I take it. You make a mistake, I take it.”