ByBas Rutten, writer at
Official Creators profile of Bas Rutten. Retired MMArtist, entertainer, host for the podcast
Bas Rutten

Saturday night, we’ve got with a fantastic title fight in the main event. I know there are some great fights on the card, but rematches are so intriguing, mainly because you want to see if the person that lost the first time around has learned anything from their mistakes, if they’ve taken something useful from the loss.

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson

Well, we know that when hits and connects, the fight could be over, as we saw in the first 30 seconds when they met last time. Cormier is tough, though, and he survived that big overhand right that connected.

He needs to be composed at all times, because when he connected the first time they fought, he got too aggressive and started over-committing. Once Cormier found the clinch, he was out of trouble.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When there is a clinch, and he feels he can get underneath the jaw of Cormier and put a guillotine choke on, I say go for it. It’s great takedown defense, as well since it forces DC to get out of the choke first.

The first time they fought, they were in the clinch and Johnson could have tried it there, but he decided not. I’m not saying try to finish DC with a guillotine—well a standing guillotine would be okay, but I wouldn’t drop backwards and put DC in my guard. Since Johnson is three inches taller, a standing guillotine would work better than the other way around

I would really try to not even be in the clinch. He should use his reach, keep DC on the outside, fire short combinations and be in and out. Additionally, he should move to the sides, and not be a stationary target, because that will give Cormier a chance for a takedown.

Kicks are good to throw after straight punches when DC is further away from him, although that high kick he threw when they broke their clinch… he sure doesn’t need a lot of space for that.

I would stay away from single kicks in the first round, or at least the beginning of the first two minutes. Although they are super explosive and I always say, ‘That’s when you CAN throw a single kick,’ but just use your hands, many straights, keep him away, move after you throw and get used to DC’s movement. You have five rounds. With his fast twitch fibers (explosive muscles), it’s hard for him to not throw with bad intentions, and his kicks pack a serious amount of power, too.

Also, use lots of straight punches, because straights make your opponent move backwards, but hooks will give him an opportunity to come forward. Then again, AJ should make sure he doesn’t miss a straight because DC will shoot forward like what happened when he fought Gustaffson. Alexander threw a front kick to the head, which is a small target. When he missed, because Johnson moved out of the way, it gave Rumble a chance to counter, and that set up Gustaffson’s loss.

Daniel Cormier

needs to attack with strikes, but when he does, he should keep looking for the clinch. He cannot strike and move backwards—well, he can, but then he needs to go for a takedown.

I am saying this because Johnson is a really good counter fighter. He trains with Tyrone Spong, one of the best strikers in the world, so both these guys training together is a scary thing.

When they first met, DC attacked, moved out, but then immediately got hit anyway. So, it’s either move forward and keep looking for the clinch while you’re punching, or you throw two shots, then move out, but Johnson counters and immediately jumps forward and shoots for a takedown, sort of like Cody Garbrandt did to Dominick Cruz when he took Cruz down.

Also, non-stop attacking is what Cormier is used to. It’s the same fighting style as his training partner and teammate, , and it’s a nightmare for a person with fast twitch fibers, because you don’t give him a break. So, when he keeps doing this, he makes AJ work his core the whole time.

I’ve mentioned this a few times; your core is a large group of muscles, and like your biceps, when you are curling (getting your pump on), they will fill themselves up with blood and lactic acid. When that happens, your lungs cannot expand the way they normally should. That’s a problem because those “fast muscles” need oxygen.

So, doing this for two or three rounds will get Johnson tired, and of course, that will be a problem for him.

I hope that Cormier trained his striking with thick head gear, because that will give his training partners a “longer reach.” This way, he can get used to that 5.5-inch reach advantage that Johnson has over him. I’m pretty sure that’s how he got surprised the first time they met when Johnson landed that overhand right.

On top of that, as I mentioned, he is also three inches taller, so that will give Johnson even more reach. All that says is this: fight inside Johnson’s reach and do not leave that space.

When in the clinch, if I was Cormier, I would throw knees to the Johnson’s thighs, but as I always mention, make them count. Many times when I see fighters throwing knees at the thighs of their opponents, it’s almost like they are sparring and hold back.

What I mean is; throw that leg up, move your hips away so you give the knee space to develop power and use the knee cap while kneeing him as hard as you can. More importantly, knee the thigh on the exact same place the whole time.

I was teaching a seminar with Duane Ludwig in Austin, TX at the Onnit academy last weekend, and I talked about low kicks, and how people should aim for those. Find a mark on their shorts, and kick the same spot every time.

First off, “aiming” will help you get you better focused. Second, imagine you could drop a guy with three low kicks (just an example) to the exact same spot—the fight is over after three low kicks. But, when you separate the kicks over three targets, you need nine low kicks. See what I mean? Of course, this explanation is not exactly true, since all low kicks count, but it’s a great way to explain it to those that might be new fans of the sport.

Both guys are good strikers, but Johnson is the most powerful one in the UFC, so do not take the risk. That means Johnson needs to stay away from the clinch, and Cormier needs the clinch. It’s nothing we didn’t know already, right?

I’m really looking forward to this fight, as I’m sure all of you are, too. We’ll just have to be on pins and needles until Saturday to see how it all turns out.

Godspeed and party on!

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