In order to weigh up the variables in play when these two competitors meet again it would make sense to recap the highlights of the first fight.
Anthony Johnson came out immediately trying to keep Cormier long, for two reasons firstly to make it harder for Cormier to clinch and grapple secondly to keep him in the best range for his power strikes. He achieved this using his jab.
In both of these clip’s Cormier does the right thing and retreats to avoid any follow-up punches, very important early in the fight as Cormier hasn’t established his range yet.
Here Cormier starts playing the jabbing game, which is a high-risk & low reward tactic for a shorter fighter so early into the fight.
Cormier finds himself in a vulnerable position roaming in the space between the two fighters, Rumble spots the opening and catches Cormier.
This next sequence for my money is where the fight was won and lost, Johnson after hurting DC goes in for the kill but his approach cost him the fight.
Instead of creating another opening with disguise and control much like the way he knocked Cormier down initially, Rumble starts swinging for the fences smothering his work allowing Cormier to engage a clinch.
Cormier doesn’t do any damage from this position initially however, he forces Johnson to carry his weight knowing this will tax Rumble’s gas tank and take some sting out of his explosive power.
Once Anthony Johnson gets free the early signs of fatigue start to show, the same punch he dropped Cormier with earlier is now spotted & slipped by DC.
Cormier ends the round with Rumble backed up against the cage.
Aware that Rumble has had a minute to recover Cormier presses from the start of this round denying Anthony Johnson any more time to recover, the idea is to force Johnson to keep working.
There is still danger associated with engaging Johnson at this point but much less than early in round one.
Cormier gets reminded of the danger still present when the two exchange kicks. Rumble again throws caution to the wind desperately trying to finish the fight.
Johnson throws one left kick too many giving Cormier his leg, Cormier completes the takedown and has a potential four and a half minutes to work for a finish or at the very least force Johnson to use more energy by defending transitions.
During the last minute of the round, DC delivers some damage with elbows and punches leaving Rumble exhausted.
The fight is now following a pattern in which Johnson has come out strong early in both rounds and Cormier has managed to find a way to clinch or take Johnson down controlling the majority of the round.
The customary Rumble charge again, the difference in this round is Johnson slips whilst attacking and he himself engages a takedown attempt.
Now logically looking at how tired Rumble appeared at the end of round 2 you would assume that there isn’t much left in terms of cardio endurance at this point.
Taking that on board the last thing he would want to do is diminish what’s left by trying to take Cormier down. The best plan would be to get back up separate & use whatever he’s got left to try and catch Cormier. I assume by now though Johnson is just fighting on pure instinct.
Johnson manages to get the former Olympian Wrestler down, the issue is Cormier is so much fresher he gets up immediately and reverses the position. Once again with four minutes remaining Cormier has plenty of time to grind Rumble down, DC does just that finishing the fight with a rear-naked choke.