Daniel Cormier: No one’s pushed Johnson in his last nine fights
The moment Daniel Cormier got the call to replace Jon Jones and face Anthony Johnson this Saturday at UFC 187 with the light heavyweight title on the line, the two-time Olympic wrestler wasted no time breaking down his upcoming opponent.
It didn’t take Cormier long to take note of Johnson’s previous run in the UFC that was marred by missed weight cuts and poor performances whenever he faced the best fighters in his division, whether it was welterweight or middleweight.
"At the core of Anthony Johnson, Anthony’s the guy who got submitted by Josh Koscheck. Anthony’s the guy that tapped out before Vitor Belfort got the choke in. At the core of him, he is who he is. I just have to go out and find that," Cormier said on "UFC Tonight" just hours after the fight was made.
Cormier won’t just dwell on the past either when looking at Johnson’s biggest strengths and his most obvious flaws. In three fights since returning to the UFC, Johnson has scored two first-round knockouts and a one-sided beatdown of former UFC light heavyweight Phil Davis.
As impressive as Johnson has been, Cormier doesn’t believe anyone has actually pushed him to the brink and back again. It’s something he plans on doing in this weekend’s main event.
"All the stuff that I say, I don’t say it just for the hell of it. I believe it. The truth of the matter is he’s won nine fights in a row, but he hasn’t been pushed during that stretch," Cormier told FOX Sports.
"He beat Phil Davis up for 15 minutes. He beat Andrei Arlovski up for 15 minutes, and everybody else he knocked out early. Even if that guy is in there, it’s up to me to go in and win, and if I don’t, he’ll beat me."
The truth of the matter is he’s won nine fights in a row, but he hasn’t been pushed during that stretch.
— Daniel Cormier
Cormier knows the kind of power that Johnson possesses in his hands, so he’s certainly not underestimating what the No. 1-ranked contender brings to the table in their title fight. At the same time, Cormier has never been knocked out or knocked down during his MMA career and barely took any damage during his five-round battle with Jon Jones back in January.
Cormier is a power puncher in his own right, not to mention an Olympic-level wrestler, so he’s curious how Johnson will react when he gets hit or put on the mat with a blast double leg takedown.
"You can say that other guy is still hidden inside a massive ‘Rumble’ and he’s just 30 pounds heavier. A big, power puncher that puts fear into everyone. You could say that with the intention of actually going out and pulling out that guy that has all those doubts. You can see it in those past performances," Cormier said.
"Is ‘Rumble’ a different fighter today than he was back in the day? 100 percent. But it’s up to me to try and find that guy that will start to doubt himself when things go south. If I don’t do it, Anthony Johnson will win this fight and become the UFC light heavyweight champion."
The one thing Cormier knows above all else is that this is a rare opportunity to get two cracks at the light heavyweight title inside a six-month span. He knows there may not be a third time, so he has no plans of wasting this chance to finally become a world champion in the UFC.
"This is the opportunity that I would have killed for," Cormier said, "and I got it."