Memorial Day barbecues aren’t the only big attraction this weekend. This Saturday May 23, the UFC will crown a new light heavyweight champion for the first time in four years.
Kickboxer Anthony Johnson will take on Olympic wrestling vet Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The light heavyweight title, formerly held by Jon “Bones” Jones was vacated after Jones was arrested in connection with a hit-and-run accident that injured a pregnant woman in New Mexico. With the vacated title up for grabs in the five round fight, Johnson at 19-4 is dialed in on becoming the UFC’s next light heavyweight champion. “Mentally I’m there,” Johnson tells EBONY.
“To me it doesn’t take much to be mentally prepared for any fight because if it’s a three round fight or a five round fight, I’m still going to go in with the same mentality and do my best to get the job done.”
Current odds at online sportsbook TopBet have Johnson at 50/50 even odds to win his fight against Cormier on Saturday. That doesn’t bother Johnson, he’s just anxious to go toe to toe with Cormier and come out victorious. “I respect everything about him,” said Johnson.
“He started from the ground up just like I did.”
Cormier is coming off of a loss to Jon “Bones” Jones in January. The two were close through three rounds, but Jones came out victorious in a decision. Johnson is a winner of his last three fights that include Alexander Gatson, Rogerio Nogueira and Phil Davis. It’s a whole new ball game when he steps into the octagon with a 15-1 Daniel Cormier. Johnson has prepared for Cormier by working on his wrestling skills to counter the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestler in the main event. “He’s beaten some of the best,” said Johnson.
“He’s a grinder, I’m a grinder, so we’re going to see who’s the bigger man that night.”