Yesterday, Daniel Cormier received the news that he would challenge Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title next month at UFC 187.
That’s right, the vacant title.
With champion and pound-for-pound entrant Jon Jones stripped of his belt and suspended indefinitely, the title will be up for grabs — and not an interim title.
Cormier had lost a decision to Jones in his last bout.
“Jon did this to himself, the belt is not his anymore,” Cormier explained on UFC Tonight. “It’s the real championship; there is no ‘interim’ tag.”
Cormier and Jones engaged in a bitter war of words which actually turned violent at a UFC press event last year. Cormier began the expected trash talk with Johnson — describing him as a fighter who has not evolved with time.
“Anthony Johnson is the same guy who tapped against Vitor Belfort before the choke was even in,” Cormier smiled. “Anthony Johnson is who he is. At the core, he’s the same guy who was submitted by Josh Koscheck.”
In the former case, Johnson lost to Cormier’s then-teammate Koscheck in a bout contested at middleweight back in 2009. In contrast, Cormier fought at heavyweight for the first thirteen bouts of his career.
Cormier admits he would have never anticipated the turn of events.
“If you would have told me a couple years ago I would fight Anthony Johnson for the belt, I would have said package the belt and send it to San Jose,” he laughed.
UFC 187 will take place May 23 in Las Vegas.