Rumble can take confidence from the fact he was able to hurt Daniel Cormier in the first fight, the adjustment he needs to make is being patient to first set Cormier up and then be economical with strikes thereafter if Cormier is still standing.
Prior to the first fight with Cormier, Rumble had a similar scenario when he wobbled Alexander Gustafsson,
There’s still plenty of time at this point to finish the fight especially for someone like Anthony Johnson who has legitimate one-punch knockout power. Rumble waste’s lots of energy trying to finish Gustafsson.
Rumble did eventually get the finish regardless in this fight which earned him the shot at Cormier back in 2015.
This moves me on to my next point, how much more intelligent Anthony Johnson has been at setting up opponents since losing to Cormier.
Against Manuwa he used the left kick to push the opponent towards the overhand right.
Here we see him sneakily breaking Glover’s guard by feigning a left hook. Glover takes the bait attempts to duck however, Rumble was setting him up for the uppercut which Glover Teixeira unknowingly moves his head towards.
In the fight with Ryan Bader, Rumble found himself in a beneficial position from Bader’s failed takedown attempt, Anthony Johnson was uncharacteristically selective in picking his strikes. Further evidence of how hindsight has helped improve his game in the last two years.
For the rematch Rumble should play to his strengths and take his time, patience will be key as in my opinion he has around 7 minutes to knock Cormier out before the contest starts to swing more in Cormier’s favour.
Cormier fought a perfect fight for 85% of the first meeting, the big technical mistake he made was waiting too long in the area just outside Rumble’s reach. The two areas DC wants to be in is up close (boxing range) to grapple & throw short strikes or far enough out so even if Rumble steps in there is still space between the two.
Below are some examples of the distance Cormier needs to avoid loitering in.
DC is one of the best in the world at transitioning from striking to wrestling with his level changes & he could use this early against Rumble to negotiate the danger a fresh Anthony Johnson brings. Advancing to tight range opens up a multitude of opportunities, one being the clinch which DC used very effectively in the previous meeting.
DC’s boxing is overlooked, although he is far more successful when striking from close range due to his smaller frame and reach compared to the majority of light heavyweights. After the 7-minute window in which Rumble is extremely dangerous Cormier can start to impose his own striking game if he chooses to.
Anthony Johnson has the ability to knock any man out not only guys at 205lb but also heavyweights, because of that this fight is as close to 50-50 as it gets. The defining factor for me is that Cormier is the only guy to survive getting staggered by Rumble and win.
Through the history of fighting knockout punchers who have been accustomed to steamrolling opponents become somewhat demoralised when a foe can absorb shots other fighters could not. Rumble must have that swimming around in the back of his mind somewhere, the seven-minute window he has to knock Cormier out will feel shorter and shorter every minute Cormier can survive. DC has fought two similarly tall competitors since Johnson those being Alexander Gustafsson & Anderson Silva that being the case I expect a much better prepared Cormier this time around,
Daniel Cormier wins by TKO.