When Jimi Manuwa sat at cage side for Daniel Cormier’s rematch with Anthony Johnson at UFC 210, it was clear that the outspoken Brit wasn’t impressed with DC’s performance. Cormier managed to finish Johnson with a rear-naked choke in the second round, marking his second title defence since winning the vacant belt in a match with Johnson in 2015. Despite this, Manuwa thinks that Cormier isn’t all that he’s hyped up to be.
“I didn’t see anything that was like, ‘wow,’ or anything,” Manuwa told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “He’s just a fat wrestler, that’s it. He can’t stand with me, you know what I mean? All he’s got is his wrestling, and all he’s going to try and do is take me down if I fight him. That’s it. He’s very good at it, but that’s all he’s got. If we fight, all I would have to work on is takedown defence, and I’ll knock him out within two rounds.”
In what turned out to be Johnson’s final MMA bout, the fearsome striker, who has previously knocked out Jimi Manuwa, inexplicably tried to wrestle with Cormier in their rematch. The challenger was dominated in the grappling exchanges and was made to pay for not utilising his high-level striking. It looks like Manuwa will look to learn from Johnson’s mistakes.
Jimi Manuwa currently sits at #2 in the light heavyweight rankings, one place behind his team-mate and former title challenger, Alexander Gustafsson. Manuwa is set to face #4 ranked Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214, where Cormier will look to defend his title in a rematch against the returning Jon Jones. The likelihood is that Gustafsson will get a title shot ahead of Manuwa. However, if Manuwa is victorious against the rapidly rising Oezdemir, he could be looking at a shot at the light heavyweight belt in the next year.
“If Jones pulls out or DC pulls out, I’m going to main event and save the card,” Manuwa said, laughing. “I’m preparing for a fight. I’m preparing stand-up, wrestling, judo, everything; I’m just prepared to fight. It doesn’t matter who I’m fighting, whether it’s Daniel Cormier, Jones or Volkan, I’m prepared to fight. I’m doing my runs, I’m doing my cardio, I’m doing my striking, I’m doing my wrestling and everything in order to win the fight.
“If it’s DC, I just have to do a little bit of more wrestling. If it’s Jones, I’ll do some wrestling and a little bit more striking. If it’s Volkan, I have to do a little bit more striking and takedown defence and sharpen up everything. So that’s what were doing, sharpening up everything and getting ready for victory.”
“I think Jones beats him again. I don’t mind who I fight, both are great fighters, but I think Jones got his number. I don’t think there’s nothing Daniel can do on Jones. I think if he [Cormier] takes him down, he can’t keep him down, and he can’t beat him in the striking department. So I don’t think he’s got anything for Jones, I think Jones beats him in the title fight on July 29th.”