The last time UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier squared off against challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the title vacated by former champ Jon “Bones” Jones, he put on a wrestling clinic as a slight underdog en route to the biggest win of his career.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Cormier (18-1) finds himself in a nearly identical situation for Saturday’s championship rematch at UFC 210 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, sitting as a -105 underdog (bet $105 to win $100) according to oddsmakers.
A lot of that probably has to do with Cormier’s moderate inactivity over the two years since he submitted Johnson via third-round rear-naked choke submission at UFC 187.
Cormier has fought just twice after winning the title, scoring a split-decision victory against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 in 2015 and a unanimous-decision win over former middleweight champ Anderson “Spider” Silva at UFC 200 when Jones failed a drug test and had to withdraw from their championship rematch last July 9.
Johnson has fought three times during that same stretch, including twice in 2016, knocking out Glover Teixeira in 13 seconds at UFC 202 and Ryan Bader in 1:26 at UFC on Fox 18. His previous bout was a second-round KO of fourth-ranked contender Jimi Manuwa, and all three finishes earned him a Performance of the Night bonus from the UFC.
Before meeting Cormier for the first time, he also pulled off a first-round TKO of Gustafsson in his home country of Sweden as a solid underdog.
The co-main event at UFC 210 will also feature a former champ who is not used to being an underdog. Chris Weidman (13-2) is coming off back-to-back losses in which he was finished by Luke Rockhold in the fourth round and Yoel Romero in the third. This after he made three successful title defenses as the UFC middleweight champ.
Weidman is listed as a small -110 dog here versus fourth-ranked Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2), with the only two times he has previously been in this scenario happening when he faced the future Hall of Famer Silva. However, Mousasi enters this matchup on a tear, winning four in a row, including three straight knockouts to justify his -120 price.