Well, who the hell saw that coming? In one of the more baffling performances I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson decided to implement an interesting game plan in his rematch with Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. Directly after losing in the exact same sequence of movements, Johnson did the unexpected and retired from the sport at the height of his powers. And he wasn’t the only fighter to call it a career. Let’s delve into the fallout of UFC 210.
Patrick Cote decided to retire after giving a decent showing against Thiago Alves. Rather than focus on the performance itself, I thought I’d speak on what I believe Cote has left behind in his wake. Patrick Cote was one of those warriors from a bygone era where boxing and takedown defense made you an elite competitor. Along with Georges St-Pierre, David Loiseau and a handful of others, Cote put Canada on the map. Cote not only evolved with the sport when it was necessary, he proved himself to be a tough out even at the very end. While he may not get the kind of send off other more successful fighters will receive, I’m here to say that Patrick Cote was certainly one of the most entertaining fighters out there that always put on a show and put it on the line. Damn it, now I’m getting all misty.
Back to the violence…
The most entertaining fight on the main card was swiftly followed by the most disappointing. Pearl Gonzalez battled Cynthia Calvillo in a pretty entertaining scrap. Calvillo opened strong with a ton of offense, though Gonzalez did show some good defense with an interesting opened handed right shield which prevented some significant damage on the feet. Once the fight hit the ground however, Calvillo showed once again why she’s such a problem in the grappling arena. A rear naked choke would eventually materialize in the third round. Calvillo is now has two victories in as many appearances and for whatever reason people are already wanting to match her up with strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. No. Just, no. While Calvillo is certainly talented, she has a ways to go before she’s ready for the champ. Angela Hill should be a nice challenge to see exactly where she’s at.
Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi had a pretty entertaining match. That is until the middle of the second frame which saw Mousasi land a knee to Weidman’s head that was potentially illegal. The match would eventually end with Mousasi getting his hand raised but with no real definitive winner. Weidman’s approach of footwork, kicks, and feints masked his takedowns rather well (something I’ll definitely touch upon in another article). Mousasi was effective in the second round rattling off hand combinations that hurt the former champion. A rematch would be the fair thing to do, but during this new era of MMA it’s all about what sells, not necessarily what makes sense.
Last, but not least, Anthony Johnson decided that he’d rather wrestle with the superior wrestler rather than keep the fight at striking distance as he faced off against Daniel Cormier. It was an interesting approach that perhaps could have worked had he used the strategy to through off Cormier throughout the round. Instead, ‘Rumble’ stuck to his guns and kept being fought off. He did land some heat towards the end of the first frame which broke the champ’s nose. It was in the second frame that we saw Johnson wilt as he was taken down by the same single leg-inside trip that he succumbed to the first time he face Cormier. From there it was all de ja vu as Cormier secured the back and sunk in the rear naked choke.
Despite the performance, Anthony Johnson was still able to retire with a level of eloquence and dignity. His retirement was far more surprising than Patrick Cote’s own, especially when you consider that Johnson is still in his prime. Many are trying to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of Anthony Johnson, but in reality I hope it is. A fighter knows when they’re done and if ‘Rumble’ lacks the motivation then what’s the point of getting in their and potentially injuring himself. If his head isn’t in the game then he’s just putting himself in danger. Yeah, he puts himself in danger for a living, but it’s a whole different ball game when you just don’t want to be there anymore.
For my part, I’m thanking Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson for the memories. As far as competition goes, he will be missed.
Do you think Anthony Johnson should have retired?