On April 8th, the UFC makes its way to Buffalo, New York, where Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier defends his belt against #1 challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a rematch of their 2015 fight. With the betting markets unable to point to a clear favourite, what do the statistics suggest? Read on to find out.
Considering the suspended absence of Jon Jones and apologies to Alex Gustafsson, there’s little doubt that the two best light heavyweights in the UFC will be stepping into the octagon to face one another on April 8th.
Daniel Cormier isn’t just a champion. The #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the organisation has lost via decision to Jones and won 18 times. The names of fighters he’s vanquished include a victory over Johnson at UFC 187 in 2015. The former all-American took the title with the win over Johnson after Jones was forced to vacate the title and Cormier hasn’t looked back.
Johnson epitomises the value of second chances. Once the punchline on a running joke about missing weight, Rumble’s reputation in the sport was trashed. Turfed from the UFC, he stopped the insane weight cuts, started fighting at more natural weights, took his craft more seriously and strung together six dominant wins before being invited back.
He made the most of the invitation, with dominant victories over three UFC mainstays (including Gustafsson) before running into Cormier. Undeterred by that loss, he has since won three more fights and earned another shot at Cormier’s belt. The markets don’t hate his chances of winning it, either.
Analyzing the betting odds
Daniel Cormier’s recent odds at Pinnacle:
Anthony Johnson’s recent odds at Pinnacle:
The markets have recognised both Cormier and Johnson as dominant lately - their first match was the only time in the last two years that either has offered a better than even return on bets. While Johnson’s Bader fight awarded bettors for waiting, that’s proven to be the exception, rather than the rule.
A look at Cormier-Johnson tells us Cormier’s win may have been an upset. A close fight until the submission, Cormier was nevertheless ahead before he sunk in the rear-naked choke that won him the championship, so it’s especially interesting to note that while he opened as the favourite, the market very clearly saw more interest in betting on Johnson’s explosiveness. At the time of writing, the market has the two as dead even, so there’s still some sentiment for Johnson despite the existing track record.
Tale of the tape
Cormier vs. Johnson tale of the tape
The match up
The tale of the tape verifies one thing - this is a matchup of Cormier’s versatility vs. Johnson’s explosiveness. Cormier is a cerebral fighter, working to close the gap with his striking and relying on the ever-present spectre of his phenomenal wrestling game to maintain an advantage. He can win via KO, submission, wrestling suppression, you name it.
Johnson meanwhile, relies on his power to finish fights. Cormier won’t have to worry about being submitted, which allows him to focus more on stopping the Johnson onslaught that’s knocked 16 opponents out, but he will need to watch for takedowns, which Johnson sets up by forcing opponents to defend against strikes. He’s particularly adept at knowing when to make that switch.
Despite the different approaches, the two profile quite similarly with the advanced stats:
Cormier vs. Johnson statistical breakdown
Who will win?
Both fighters are priced at 1.943*, so your guess is as good as ours, but there are a few factors to keep in mind:
1) Cormier has never been stopped and is facing a fighter who generally wins by stoppage.
2) Cormier has the championship advantage of knowing judges might not be inclined to see the title change hands.
3) Cormier is a tactful submission artist facing a fighter who’s shown he can be submitted.
4) Anthony Johnson is a physical freak and containing him for 25 minutes doesn’t strike everyone as actually being possible.
Does point #4 cancel out points 1-3? If it does, bet Johnson. If it doesn’t, bet Cormier. Either way, it’s going to be a war. Make sure you have your stake in it.
Get into the action with unbeatable Johnson vs. Cormier odds at Pinnacle.