Cormier retains light heavyweight belt, retires Johnson
By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — With a vicious choke, Daniel Cormier forced Anthony Johnson into submission and retirement.
Cormier’s next title challenger?
Pick a fighter outside of the cage.
Cormier easily defeated “Rumble” Johnson for the second time in two years, using a rear naked choke to retain the light heavyweight championship in the main event of UFC 210 on Saturday night.
With tears in his eyes, Johnson announced his retirement inside the octagon, saying “it’s time for me to do something else.”
It’s time for Cormier to figure out what’s next — and he has options for a major fight later this year.
Cormier jawed with No. 4 ranked contender Jimi Manuwa immediately after the bout and then talked trash with perhaps the class — and considered, the uncrowned champ –of the division, Jon Jones.
“Jimi Manuwa, you don’t want any of this,” Cormier said. “Jon Jones, as a fighter, I respect you, but we don’t see eye to eye.”
Jones looked on from cageside and stretched his arms in approval as the sellout crowd of 17,110 went wild for the former champion. Three months from completing a yearlong doping ban, Jones said he was focused on reclaiming the light heavyweight title he’s lost twice due to suspensions.
Cormier wanted nothing to do with Jones’ posturing, saying, “don’t talk to me about a guy who’s ineligible. When you get your (act) together, I’ll be here waiting to fight.”
Cormier was awarded the light heavyweight belt only after Jones was stripped of it in early 2015, when he was suspended by the UFC following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jones had successfully defended his title eight times through 2013. But he’s fought just three times over the past four years.
He had joked that he would confront Cormier in the cage but stayed in his seat and hung out with several members of the Buffalo Bills
“I’m not going in that cage. I’ll leave that man alone. Let him enjoy his night,” Jones said. “I want to talk to my business partners, talk to the UFC and see what they want to do.”
After Cormier’s interview was over, he started pointing at Jones, who was seated in the front row. Cormier began yelling at Jones, which was inaudible over the roar of the crowd. Jones looked up and smiled. Then Cormier said something and smiled, too, before walking back the other way.
Cormier’s lone loss in a 19-fight MMA career came against Jones in 2015.
Cormier edged Johnson at UFC 187 in 2015 by submission, and he won with a rear naked choke in the second round at the KeyBank Center.
The 33-year-old Johnson said he was moving on an unspecified non-MMA venture.
“I’m tired of getting punched,” he said.
Gegard Mousasi stopped Chris Weidman by TKO in the second round of a confusing conclusion to a middleweight bout.
Mousasi connected with two knees to the right side of Weidman’s head that stunned the former champion and led to a stoppage. Mousasi had lifted Weidman and delivered one right knee to the head, a seemingly clean blow that clearly did some damage. Mousasi’s second knee caused some of the confusion.
Referee Dan Miragliotta gave Weidman, who suffered his third straight loss, a 5-minute recovery period because he thought the fighter had both hands on the canvas, which would make the second knee illegal. Fighters can’t deliver those knees when the opponent has two hands down.
Mousasi’s first knee was clearly legal, though replays seemed inconclusive on Weidman’s hand placement on the second knee. After an extended break and plenty of commotion, doctors checked on Weidman and the fight was stopped as a packed KeyBank Center drowned out the decision with boos.
UFC fans hadn’t fully settled down for the main event from the mess of a finish in what had been a punishing Moursasi-Weidman bout.
Weidman yelled profanities as he looked at replays on the screen and believed he should have been won because of illegal kicks.
“Why did they even stop the fight if it was a legal hit?” Weidman asked.
Weidman lost his third straight bout following a run of 13 victories to open his career. The New York native apologized to fans who had rallied him with “USA” chants against the Dutch Mousasi.
“It’s not the way I wanted to win. I wanted to continue to fight,” Mousasi said. “I was just in the moment of the match. If he wants a rematch, he can have his rematch.”
UFC was back in Buffalo for the first time since New York lifted its MMA ban and ran a card in the city for the first time since UFC 7 on Sept. 8, 1995, was headlined by Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov’s fight to a ridiculous 33-minute draw.
New York had shunned MMA almost since the company’s inception and was gone for nearly 20 years once UFC 12 in 1997 was booted after the event was denied sanctioning rights. But New York hosted two big cards at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in the last five months and advance ticket sales were strong for Buffalo. UFC will run a card in July in Long Island at the renovated Nassau Coliseum.
Charles Oliveira, sent back to the 155-pound division because of a checkered history of missing weight in the 145-pound class, choked out Will Brooks at just 2:30 of the first round in the first bout of the main card. He made quick work in his first lightweight bout since 2011 of Brooks. Brooks buried his head in his hands and was crestfallen on a stool for several minutes after the bout before Oliveira popped over for some encouraging words.
Thiago Alves used a stunning left hook in the first round and battered Patrick Cote’s face to point where it was bathed in blood in a unanimous decision victory. Cote (23-11) dropped his gloves and retired in the wake of the punishing defeat.
Cynthia Calvillo earned a submission win in a fight that was nearly scrapped over Pearl Gonzalez’s breast implants. The state athletic commission cleared Gonzalez to fight after talking to her physician. Gonzalez might have wished the fight was called off when she gave up late in the third.
Buffalo Bills were seated cageside and Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas also was in the house.
UFC announced Urijah Faber will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July during International Fight Week.