One of the talking points after the initial UFC bout between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson was how his coach kept yelling “don’t give up!” over and over. According to DC, once he heard the corner screaming this, he knew Rumble was about to quit and it gave him the extra energy and motivation to finish the fight.
Their rematch at UFC 210 is approaching, and Henri Hooft has since addressed the statements he made from Rumble’s corner. Brett Okamoto counted 10 times Hooft screamed that line, and the Dutch coach was asked about the reasoning for it.
“Some people say ‘you’re a great coach, but you cannot tell that to your students.’ That’s bulls—t!” Hooft explained. “Because every training, in a scramble when you give the back to somebody, we talk about this ‘don’t give up, scramble! scramble!’ Don’t give up position, and don’t just sit there and wait.’”
According to the renowned coach and former fighter, he wasn’t asking Rumble not to quit in the actual fight, he was just telling him not to give up and settle for bad position.
“He’s going to be strong (in that position) and you’re going to be weaker, so that’s why we try to motivate them to don’t give up,” he said. “He got a little bit crazy in the first round, and he had to survive the second round just to get his second wind. Not ‘giving up’ was not saying he wants to quit in the fight, I don’t think AJ is like that. Otherwise he wouldn’t come up this far — but give up positions, where his opponent is getting stronger.
“Probably people think they can break AJ, but it’s kinda funny. The only guy that beat AJ was DC, the rest, AJ knocked everybody out. They’re saying ‘he’s mentally weak, blah blah blah’ but you see what happens (to his opponents). A real fighter doesn’t quit in the fight in the sense of ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’, but they give up a position. That’s where it gets wrong, because you give the opponent confidence. That was more of the case of me trying to make him not give up position and to keep going.”
Hooft, who has a tight relationship with Johnson, says he has seen him time and time again go through adversity, fight injured and show a lot of heart.
“It doesn’t mean quitting the fight. I don’t think a guy like AJ — what he went through with all these weight cuts, with all these problems and everything, he wouldn’t be fighting anymore if he quits.”
“Anthony is not somebody who quits. That’s not the case. Maybe it was just a little misunderstood. People get like crazy about it. C’mon man, be serious.”