UFC 187: Cormier vs. Johnson Date: May 23, 2015 Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena Broadcast: PPV UFC Light Heavyweight Contender Daniel Cormier Daniel Cormier (15-1) is a former Olympic freestyle wrestler-turned-heavyweight powerhouse out of American Kickboxing Academy who has had a rollercoaster’s share of ups and downs in his life. An excruciating 2008 Olympic bid in wrestling led Cormier to be named team captain, but he was unable to compete due to kidney failure during his weight cut. Moving to MMA, Cormier made his pro debut and hasn’t looked back since. Training with Cain Velasquez a host of quality talent out of AKA, Cormier has developed an explosive stand-up game to go along with his dangerous Olympic-level wrestling. He used those skills to plow through the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix as a reserve replacement for Alistair Overeem, knocking off Jeff Monson (unanimous decision), Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (first-round knockout) and Josh Barnett (unanimous decision) en route to the ‘championship.’ Cormier closed out Strikeforce with a second-round TKO of Dion Staring, then moved on to the Octagon to dominate Frank Mir and then later Roy Nelson at UFC 166. He then dropped down to 205lbs and picked up two stoppage wins over Dan Henderson and Patrick Cummins to earn his shot at the UFC light heavyweight title, but he lost a hard-fought decision to the champ Jon Jones at UFC 182. He was supposed to fight Ryan Bader in the main event of UFC Fight Night 68, but after Jones got involved in legal issues stemming from a hit-and-run, the UFC yanked Jones’ title away from him and now Cormier takes on Johnson with the winner walking away with UFC gold. UFC Light Heavyweight Contender Anthony Johnson Anthony Johnson (19-4) was once a top welterweight prospect in the UFC, but after missing weight three times — including in a middleweight bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142 — the UFC decided to part ways with him. Instead of feeling bad for himself, the 30-year-old Johnson decided to improve his game, and the first step was to move to light heavyweight, where he wouldn’t have to put himself through deadly weight cuts. And the move has paid off for him, as Johnson has won nine fights in a row including victories over the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and even Andrei Arlovksi in a heavyweight bout. He has crazy power in his hands and feet, excellent takedown defence, solid offensive wrestling, improved cardio, and the desire to win. Johnson was supposed to fight Jon Jones at UFC 187 for the UFC light heavyweight championship, but after Jones was removed from the card by the UFC Johnson was given a new opponent in the form of Daniel Cormier, and the two will clash in what should be an epic encounter between two top 205lbers. Video Breakdown MMA Live Extra: Cormier early favorite against Johnson – ESPN Video Opening UFC 187 Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released the odds originally via ESPN MMA and made Cormier a -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) while Johnson opened as a +110 underdog (bet $100 to win $110) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. This fight was booked on short notice following the UFC’s stripping of Jon Jones’ title after his alleged hit-and-run incident in New Mexico. Both Cormier and Johnson are amazing fighters, and this should be a great matchup between the No. 2 and No. 3 fighters in the division. Cormier enters the fight with the advantage in the wrestling department, but Johnson has serviceable wrestling in his own right and is the better striker if this fight stays on the feet. It’s a tough fight to call. Both men are excellent fighters and this is just a very well-matched bout. Although it’s no Jones vs Johnson, this is still a great fight.