Daniel Cormier submits Anthony Johnson, who retires after fight

BUFFALO -- Saturday was one crazy night in Buffalo.

Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson's UFC light heavyweight title rematch at KeyBank Center ended in similar fashion as their first fight, with Cormier submitting Johnson via rear-naked choke. The finish came at 3:37 of the second round in the UFC 210 main event.

In a stunning twist, Johnson (22-6) announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts afterward. Johnson, 33, won 12 of his past 14 fights. If he follows through on his retirement announcement, he leaves what seemed to be an inevitable big-money fight against former champion Jon Jones on the table.

"This is my last fight," Johnson said in the Octagon. "I didn't even tell [UFC president] Dana White. My coaches knew. My family knew. My friends knew. I have to thank you all for being there for me. I gave my commitment to something I've wanted to do for a while. It's not MMA-related. It's just time to move on.

"I'm tired of getting punched by other guys. There's nothing fun about that. I enjoyed it, though. I enjoyed the UFC."

Cormier (19-1), who recorded his second title defense, acknowledged Jones in his post-fight interview. The two fought for the title in 2015, before Jones was stripped of the belt because of legal reasons. They were supposed to fight again at UFC 200 last July, but Jones was pulled from the fight for a failed drug test. His suspension ends July 6.

"Don't talk to me about a guy that's ineligible," Cormier said as Jones stood cageside. "When you get your s--- together and are ready to fight, I've been waiting for two years."

The way Saturday's fight played out also was surprising, particularly because of Johnson's strategy.

Known as a feared knockout artist, Johnson spent the entire fight looking to take down Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler. He shot on Cormier almost immediately and drove him to the fence, which resulted in a grueling positional battle.

In one brief separation, Johnson hit Cormier with a knee to the body and then an explosive high left head kick before they tied up again.

It was more of the same in the second round. Johnson threw a knee, which Cormier caught and used to push him against the fence. Johnson worked on a takedown again and got it, but Cormier got back up and eventually worked a takedown of his own and moved toward Johnson's back.

After landing several hard punches to the side of Johnson's head, Cormier secured the rear-naked choke and tapped Johnson the same way he did in their first encounter in May 2015.

"I couldn't believe he was forcing the wrestling," Cormier said. "We were OK giving up the first round. I didn't want to take that head kick.

"'Rumble' has that big burst and then panics. At the end of the day, he's a wrestler, and he took me down twice. But you've got to keep me down once you get me down.

"I hope Anthony Johnson is not walking away from this sport. He has so much more to offer this sport."

Cormier has a wedding planned in May. He said Jones would not dictate the timing of his next title defense and that he is willing to fight another light heavyweight contender, Jimi Manuwa, if the Jones rematch isn't booked next for some reason.

"The thing about the whole Jones thing, I'll fight Jon Jones. I've always said that," Cormier said. "I don't know where it got twisted. I've been here the whole time. I've been here. Jon Jones is the one who hasn't been here.

"Of course I'd fight Jon Jones, but Jimi Manuwa said he wants a title fight. He's won a couple fights in a row. I think he's a good fighter. It kind of depends on what they do with Jones. If Jones wants to fight somebody else first, or if he's ready to come fight me, then we'll fight."

White said he did not talk to Jones, despite the former champ being in the arena, but said they would talk soon.

"There's nothing to talk about right now," White said. "He's still on suspension. We'll talk when he comes off suspension."