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Rumble's coach Hooft: "Anthony is not somebody who quits."

Anthony Johnson squares off against Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 210. Ross Dettman for ESPN

The first time Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson fought for a light heavyweight title, at UFC 187 in May 2015, Cormier won via rear-naked choke at 2:39 of the third round.

During that two-minute, 39-second frame, Johnson's coach, Henri Hooft, called out the words "don't give up" to Johnson 10 different times.

As the two prepare to meet again for the light heavyweight championship at UFC 210 on April 8 in Buffalo, Cormier (18-1) has pointed to Hooft's words as evidence that Johnson, well, quits. He'll give up. He's dangerous at first, but he will quickly fade. His own coaches seem to know it.

Speaking to ESPN.com's Five Rounds podcast, Hooft said Cormier has a gross misinterpretation of what he was communicating to Johnson that night.

"Some people say, 'You're a great coach, but you can't tell that to your students [in a fight],'" Hooft said. "That's bulls---, because in training, when they scramble and give their back to somebody, we scream, 'Keep scrambling! Keep going!' It's more a case of, 'Don't give up position. Don't sit there and wait for something to happen because [your opponent] is going to be stronger.

"'Don't give up' was not saying 'don't quit the fight' -- I don't think A.J. is like that, otherwise he wouldn't have come as far as he is now -- but [it means] 'don't give up positions where your opponent feels he's getting stronger.'"

Despite Johnson's run of 12 wins in his past 13 fights, Cormier has not been the only one to question his heart.

Prior to a fight in January 2016, Ryan Bader spoke about breaking Johnson's will. Bader's coach, Aaron Simpson, plainly stated Johnson was "mentally weak." Johnson would ultimately defeat Bader via knockout just 86 seconds in.

Hooft, for one, finds those comments to be ridiculous. In addition to Johnson's record, he also used to cut an obscene amount of weight to make 170 pounds earlier in his career. A "mentally weak" individual would have never been able to do that.

"A lot of people think they can break A.J., which is kind of funny," Hooft said. "After all he went through with the weight cuts all the problems, he wouldn't be fighting anymore if he was someone who quit. [After he was cut by the UFC in 2012], he went to small shows in Kansas City, where there were no locker rooms. We've cut weight on the highway together.

"When he fought Vitor Belfort [in 2012], normally I wouldn't have let my fighter fight, but it was the first time I was in his corner. He couldn't even walk the night before. I don't understand why the UFC let him fight. He fought because there were 30,000 people in the stadium. He didn't quit and gave everything he had in the first round, and then he was done. Anthony is not somebody who quits."

Before he tapped to Cormier's rear-naked choke in the first meeting, Johnson dropped him with an overhand right in the opening seconds of the fight. According to Hooft, Johnson probably spent too much energy looking for a quick finish after that punch, which affected his gas tank in the second and third rounds.

This time, Hooft says Johnson should be more prepared for the possibility of a 25-minute fight, not to mention he's actually trained for Cormier the entire camp. The first time they fought, Cormier was a late replacement for Johnson's original opponent, Jon Jones.

"I think Jon Jones is really the best fighter in the world, and I want to fight that guy," said Hooft, on what lies ahead of next weekend. "I think a matchup between Anthony and Jon Jones would be great, and I hope five years from now we will have seen that matchup and finally got somebody who would beat Jon Jones. A.J. has potential to do it.

"Who doesn't want to see Anthony fight? Nobody wants to see two guys hanging on to each other. Everybody wants to see knockouts. Everybody gets a great feeling when he walks out, he's like Mike Tyson. You know something is going to happen and most of the time, you need to watch very closely, because it can be over so fast and so violent."