The main event of UFC 187 is a five-round light heavyweight vacant title fight between Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Cormier is a -110 favorite (bet $110 to win $100) while Johnson is a +100 underdog (bet $100 to win $100). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Cormier at -130 and Johnson at +110, and there has been two-way action on this fight as bettors are split on who will win. This is a very tough fight to call, but I slightly lean towards Johnson to defeat Cormier and become the new UFC light heavyweight champion. Here’s why. Cormier (15-1) is one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the UFC. The 36-year-old American is 4-1 in the UFC with wins over Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Pat Cummins and Dan Henderson with his lone loss coming to Jon Jones. Cormier comes from an Olympic freestyle wrestling background and he has transitioned his wrestling over extremely well to MMA, having proven he can take down bigger and heavier opponents time and time again. He has excellent technique and he uses his wrestling to take guys down and control them, and he’s also good at pushing guys against the fence and not letting them break free from his clinch. Cormier also has very solid striking, particularly with his hands — he also has good dirty boxing in the clinch — and on the ground he has an underrated submission game. His cardio at 205lbs is not as good as it used to be at heavyweight, and he was taken down by Jones in their matchup, but other than that he has looked great since moving to light heavyweight. He was originally set to take on Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 68, but following the removal of Jones from this card, he will now take on Rumble for the vacant title in what should be a tremendous scrap. Johnson (19-4) is one of the most dangerous light heavyweight fighters in the world. The 31-year-old American is 10-4 overall in the UFC including a 3-0 mark at 205lb with wins over Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Everyone knows Johnson’s story by now. At one point he was a solid welterweight, but he was cut by the UFC after missing weight in three fights. Since being cut by the UFC three years ago, Johnson has won nine fights in a row since moving up to light heavyweight. He is a different fighter now and his career turnaround has been nothing short of stunning. He also was big and strong and powerful, but now that he isn’t cutting so much weight he’s able to sustain his attack for the full 15 minutes. Johnson has tremendous knockout power. He has 13 career wins by T/KO, and is coming off of a huge upset KO win over Gustafsson, a win that really opened up eyes to his talents. Aside from having tremendous KO power, Johnson also has very good wrestling, particularly his takedown defence, and that ability to dictate where his fights take place makes him ultra dangerous. We have not seen him be put in much danger since moving up to 205lbs, but in the past his cardio and submission defence were the knocks against him. Now, though, it’s hard to say, because he’s just so much different as a light heavyweight. Johnson was supposed to fight Jones for the title but after Jones was removed from the card he now takes on Cormier in what should be a tremendous scrap that will end with one of the two men being crowed the new champ. And if Rumble can pull it off, I don’t think there’s any question he’ll become the most unlikely champion in UFC history. Let me first just say I would not be surprised to see this fight end in any manner. I could see Johnson outpointing Cormier with his striking to win a decision, I could see Cormier wrestle Johnson to win a decision, I could see Rumble knocking DC out, and I could see Cormier taking Johnson down and submitting him on the mat. Having said that, I do slightly favor Johnson to get the job done here. I like his youth advantage and I also like his reach advantage. He also has way more momentum coming into this fight, and he also has been training specifically for this date. I actually thought Johnson had a very good shot of upsetting Jones, and I think he has a good shot at getting the mini upset here against Cormier. Ultimately I just believe Johnson’s striking and takedown defence will lead him to victory and I will be picking him to win the title. Having said that, I wouldn’t bet this fight. It’s just too close to call as far as I’m concerned, and with so many other fights on the card to choose from, I think this is a fight to pass on, watch as a fan, and enjoy, because it should be a really good fight, one that will determine a new light heavyweight champion.
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