Leading up to his UFC 182 championship fight against Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier dished out and took in a lot of negativity. The two bitter rivals couldn’t wait until they met in the Octagon to first lay hands on one another, and even after the final horn sounded following five rounds of battle, they continued to take swings at each other.
Fighting Anthony "Rumble" Johnson last month at UFC 187 for the 205-pound title, however, was a much different experience for the former Olympic wrestler. The pre-fight trash talk wasn’t very personal and, after Cormier submitted Johnson in the third round to win the belt, it was "Rumble" who fastened it around the new champion’s waist.
The show of class surprised Cormier, according to a recent interview he did with The MMA Hour. Instead of bad blood remaining as it did between Jones and Cormier, DC and Johnson settled everything between bells and inside the cage.
Article continues below ...
"He made my experience different," Cormier said of Johnson.
"By putting on the belt, he made my experience of being crowned a champion different than anyone else in the UFC’s history. Nobody has done that. So thank you, Anthony Johnson, for making my experience different. I appreciate it, and I appreciate you."
Jones often looks down on opponents and baits them and fans with insults. The stripped former champion was unable to be a part of the UFC 187 action, however, and the tone of the fight differed a great deal from when he himself fought Cormier.
Johnson is far from free of his own controversy and dark side, of course. The contender has been convicted of domestic abuse against one woman, and had a restraining order placed against him by another woman — the mother to children of his — based on allegations of other abuse.
However, Cormier believed that Johnson showed his true colors with his gesture in the cage, after his loss. "He’s a nice guy and I think maybe he showed exactly how nice he is behaving in the way he did," Cormier said.
"A lot of times, losing a fight is tough. In your darkest hours, I guess your true colors show. And Anthony Johnson is made of gold, if you ask me, for the way that he handled that."
If he does, UFC president Dana White has made clear that the promotion intends to match him up immediately with another title fight. If that happens while Cormier is champion, we’ll have a rematch with two men pointing a great deal of hostility at one another.