In the main event at UFC 210, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will face off for the second time. In their previous meeting, Cormier defeated Johnson by submission to win the vacant UFC light heavyweight title. The following categories will be key in deciding whether Johnson can change the result or if the main event will be a repeat of their first fight.
Any discussion of a Johnson fight starts with power. Johnson hits extremely hard, and it is a major factor in his success. He lands 1.79 knockdowns per 15 minutes of fight time. In 18 UFC fights, he has landed 13 knockdowns. Cormier does not even come close to Johnson's power numbers. He has landed only 0.3 knockdowns per 15 minutes. In their first fight, Cormier was able to survive a first-round knockdown before coming back to win. Johnson rarely lets his opponents off the hook like that. Prior to that fight, he had not lost a fight in which he scored a knockdown since falling to Rich Clementi in 2007. Cormier will likely have to once again survive firepower from Johnson if he wants to score a second victory over the challenger.
If Johnson is famous for his power, then Cormier is similarly famous for his wrestling. Before ever stepping into a cage, Cormier competed against the best on the mats and earned spots on two U.S. Olympic teams. He has continued that dominance in the UFC and Strikeforce, as he has landed 1.93 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time. Interestingly, Johnson has a better takedown average as he lands 2.48 takedowns per 15 minutes. However, Johnson's days as a takedown artist are essentially over. Since returning to the UFC as a light heavyweight in 2014, he has landed only three takedowns in seven fights. In their first fight, Cormier used his wrestling to subdue Johnson and eventually position himself for the fight-ending submission. The former Oklahoma State wrestler managed to drag Johnson to the ground three times. Going into the fight, Johnson had been taken down only three times in his previous fights combined. In his 18-fight UFC career, Johnson has never won a fight in which an opponent scored a takedown. "Rumble" would do well to keep this fight on the feet for as long as possible.
Statistically, Cormier and Johnson are very similar in terms of striking. Cormier's striking differential is slightly better at 1.72, while Johnson's is 1.65 (striking differential is significant strikes landed per minute minus significant strikes absorbed per minute). Despite Cormier's wrestling background, Johnson actually lands a larger percentage of his significant strikes on the ground (30 percent compared to 24 percent for Cormier). A lot of these strikes come after Johnson has knocked down or rocked his opponent, but it also shows how Cormier would be wise to take Johnson out of his game by taking the top position.
Due to his finishing ability, Johnson's average fight time is much shorter than that of the champion. Johnson's average fight time is 6:02 compared to 12:37 for Cormier. For most of his career, Johnson's best path to victory was an early knockout. In UFC fights shorter than one round, he has a 90 percent winning percentage. In fights that go longer than five minutes, that winning percentage falls to 50 percent. The bottom line is that if Cormier can survive an early onslaught, momentum should almost certainly swing in his favor.