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Anthony Johnson’s corner after UFC 210 loss: Why does this happen every time?

Henri Hooft, Anthony Johnson’s coach and cornerman was just as puzzled as everyone else with the way his fighter performed in the main event of UFC 210.

MMA: UFC 210-Cormier vs Johnson Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 210 was mired in controversy from start to finish. From Daniel Cormier’s weigh-in and Pearl Gonzalez’s breast implants, right up to Gegard Mosuasi’s ‘illegal’ knees. And that’s to say nothing of the main event.

A rematch of their 2015 bout at UFC 187, Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson II was expected by fans and pundits to look a lot like their first bout, with ‘Rumble’ trying to KO ‘DC’ from distance and DC trying to get Rumble on his back early and often to wear him down. Only, it didn’t go anything like that. Instead Johnson came out looking to wrestle almost exclusively from the start, and spent the first round and a half struggling for takedowns, before getting put on the mat and submitted.

It was a strategy that left just about everyone stunned. Including Johnson’s own coaches who spent most of the fight telling their fighter to stop wrestling and start punching. MMA Junkie transcribed their corner instructions.


Voice: Take your time. Nice. Take your time. Don’t take him down.

Hooft: Don’t wrestle him.

Voice: If you’re going to go, go single.

Hooft: You don’t have to wrestle him, AJ. Just relax.

Voice: Don’t wrestle him.

Hooft: Get out of there. Get out of there.

Grappling coach Neil Melanson: OK, stud. Now, let’s get your hands hot.

Voice: Why is he wrestling him?

Hooft: This is stupid.

Voice: Why is he wrestling him?

Hooft: (Expletive) it, man. Just get off the cage.

Voice: Get out of there.

Voice: Why isn’t he listening?

(Johnson and Cormier are broken up by referee John McCarthy, and Johnson lands kicks.)

Voice: He’s tired already, DC. He doesn’t need to do this.

Voice: Why isn’t he listening?

Hooft: I don’t know why he’s doing that. We have no (expletive) eyes.


Hooft: Can you tell me why you’re wrestling? Now, you’re not going to wrestle. You take your distance. Stay away, two steps away. Why are you so worried about everything? The kicks and the knees are really good, but no kicks. Where’s your hands?

Voice: You’re doing great. Don’t (expletive) wrestle him.

Hooft: If you stand your distance, it’s an easy game. Why make it difficult?


Hooft: Movement. Athletic. Movement. That’s it. Take your distance.

(Johnson reverses against the cage and goes for another takedown)

Hooft: You need distance.

Hooft: I’m not saying nothing.

(Cormier has Johnson on the mat and is setting up a choke)

Hooft: It’s going the same as last time.

(Johnson submits to Cormier via rear-naked choke)

Hooft: Why, why the (expletive) does this happen every (expletive) time, man? Crazy.

In this case it seems that “every time” was the last time for Anthony Johnson. After his loss to Cormier, the top light heavyweight contender announced his retirement from MMA in the cage.

Maybe his plans to end his MMA career that night influenced his game plan, maybe the challenges of Cormier’s wrestling got in his head? Or maybe Johnson just had a plan and an angle that nobody else was ready for that night, not even his coaches? Either way, it was a strange ending to a card that was on weird footing from the get-go.