In the main event of UFC 210 this past weekend, UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson stepped into the Octagon with light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier for a highly anticipated rematch two years in the making.
When the fight started, many expected Johnson to look to score one of his signature highlight reel knockouts, however ‘Rumble’ surprised fans by opting to wrestle with Cormier, a former Olympian. This strategy proved to be an unsuccessful one for Johnson as he was submitted in the second round in similar fashion to his first loss to Cormier two years ago.
Immediately following the fight, Johnson used his post-fight Octagon interview to announce his retirement from MMA, explaining that an opportunity came along that wold allow the MMA vet to fulfill another one of his desires outside of fighting.
Interestingly enough, Johnson’s coaches were nowhere to be found during his retirement speech. Speculation began to arose as to where Johnson’s corner was during such a pivotal moment for Johnson. This speculation was fueled by corner cam audio from throughout the fight, where Johnson’s team could be heard furiously attempting to figure out why one of the best knockout artists in the UFC had given up on striking.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Johnson’s head coach Henri Hooft explained where he was during his fighter’s retirement speech:
“Right after the fight, I was on the cage and [Johnson] came to me and said, ‘I f-cked up,’ something, and I said, ‘Come on, man, I know it’s hard but get up, it’s already done.’ It’s what a coach says after a loss,” Hooft said (transcription via MMAFighting.com). “You cannot just, at that moment, talk about stuff. I was at the cage and said, ‘keep your head up, come on, let’s go.’ Then I stepped off and it was very busy in the cage, so I walked back to put another shirt on.
“When I was in the back, I heard that he was saying that he was retiring and looking for me and looking for other people, and I was like, ‘Oh sh-t.’ I was on my way back, then I saw him at the curtain (to return to the arena floor). … He cried with me and he talked to me and everything, then it really [sunk in].”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/11/2017.