- When the two men first went toe-to-toe a couple of years ago, the Light Heavyweight title was vacant and Cormier emerged victorious via submission in the third round after enforcing a rear-naked choke. However, it was a pulsating encounter which went one way and then the other, with both men sent crashing to the canvas at different times before Cormier got the chance to use his finishing move.
- Cormier has only competed a couple of times since the original fight, defending his belt with hard-fought victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva, which had to be ruled on by the judges. The 38-year-old’s career record stands at 18 wins and just a solitary defeat going into the bout with Johnson.
- Johnson’s 22-5 record from 27 career fights may not be as formidable as his opponent, but he is five years his junior and has had three impressive wins since losing to Cormier in 2015. ‘Rumble’ Johnson produced devastating performances to beat Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira, ending all three contests before they went the distance.
The bookies do not seem to be able to make their minds up over who will walk away from the Octagon with the title, and there is little recent form to go on after Cormier pulled out of December’s scheduled rematch with a groin injury. Now fully recovered, Cormier will most likely try to implement a similar strategy to that which proved so successful in 2015, when he gradually wore down Johnson with some smart fight management before getting in a position to enforce the submission.
Johnson has been submitted four times in his career, all via rear-naked choke, and his best bet may to try and finish the fight early with all-out aggression. ‘Rumble’ became the first fighter to knock Cormier to the canvas last time out and has the raw power to take down anyone, but Cormier is so experienced that it will be difficult to create too many opportunities. Cormier’s superior wrestling skills therefore appear more likely to be decisive than Johnson’s punching prowess, so the smart money would be on another win for the champion via submission.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Daniel Cormier to win by submission - 9/4
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.