Fighter of the Week: Daniel Cormier

Daniel “DC” Cormier
Pro Record: 19 wins & 1 loss
Association: American Kickboxing Academy
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight

In this week’s addition of FOTW we take a look at themmatakeover.com #1 LHW and #4 PFP fighter, Daniel Cormier, who defended his belt against Anthony Johnson this past weekend at UFC 210. Let me start by asking why all of the boos for this guy? Of course you’re reading this and can’t answer me directly so this is purely rhetorical. But seriously… this isn’t the WWE where hero’s become villains with a storyline. It’s not like DC is a guy that has been suspended for drugs or accused of domestic violence like a couple of his fellow light heavyweight fighters. He’s tried (and for the most part, failed) to be clever in interviews when discussing rival Jon Jones and others…. but let’s face it… He’s a 38-year-old father of three children, a fourth passed away in a car accident in 2003. He has no criminal history. He represented the United States in multiple World Wrestling Championships and the 2004 Olympics after graduating from Oklahoma State University. He’s been an ambassador for the sport of MMA, who by most accounts, seems to be one of the nicer guys in the sport. Aside from his one loss to arguably the  best MMA fighter of all-time, all he’s done is win. Is this really the guy you want to be booing, folks? I understand some of his remarks are outlandish and “towel-gate” probably didn’t help. But when boos start to outweigh the cheers I start to question the motives and reasoning of the fans.

DC comes from Lafayette, Louisiana where he was a two-sport star in high school. As an all-state Linebacker, he was offered a football scholarship to LSU, which he turned down in order to pursue wrestling. DC would start his wrestling at Colby Community College where he would earn the award for junior college national champion twice and going 61-0 in two years. From there he would transfer to Oklahoma State University where he would go 53-10 in two years and become and All-American his senior year. 6 of his 10 losses at OSU were against Cael Sanderson, who is widely considered the best collegiate wrestler of all-time after compiling a 159-0 record with multiple awards to his name. As stated earlier, DC would go on to represent the United States from 2003-2008 medaling four times in the Pan American Games with three gold medals. He would also win a bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships and come just short of winning another bronze in the bronze medal match of the 2004 Olympics. DC would make the 2008 Olympic team as their captain and was a favorite to win a medal, but kidney failure due to weight loss would eventually force him to be pulled from the competition. Shortly after the 2008 Olympics, DC would retire from amateur wrestling with countless awards and medals to his name, and pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts.

DC would join American Kickboxing Academy and fellow wrestlers Cain Valasquez, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck in his pursuit of a career in MMA, at that time in the Heavyweight division. DC would start his MMA career in spectacular fashion ending all of his first 6 fights by finish and all but one of those fights, his first, didn’t go out of the 1st round. However, DC would really make a name for himself in the sport at the StrikeForce Heavyweight Grand Prix “tournament”. It started at Strikeforce Overeem vs. Werdum where he was to face Shane del Rosario in a reserve bout for the tournament but del Rosario was forced to withdraw and Jeff Monson stepped in. Cormier would dominate the bout using his standup and takedown defense to win by unanimous decision. Within two months, DC replaced an injured Allistair Overeem who was coming off of a win over Fabricio Werdum, to face Antonio Silva in a semi-final bout of the Grand Prix. DC had reservations about entering the tournament due to his lack of size and lack of experience compared to the field but accepted the bout anyway and in an “upset” KO’d Silva in the 1st round by punches and hammer fists. This would setup a finale with DC and the other finalist, Josh Barnett, a fight that DC would dominate by a 5 round UD and be the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. I’d note that Cormier was rumored to break his hand in both of his last two fights in the tournament and still winning them impressively.

It was rumored after his tournament win that he would come to the UFC to fight, initially slated to fight Tim Sylvia but later confirmed with Frank Mir. Unfortunately, Mir had to pull out of the bout citing injury and forced DC to delay his UFC debut instead fighting once more in Strikeforce. The TKO win of Dion Staring would take DC to an 11-0 record and setup another scheduled fight with Mir. DC would start his UFC career much like his Strikeforce career running through Mir and Roy Nelson by UD. Prior to his fight with Nelson, DC made an announcement that he would be dropping down to Light Heavyweight after that fight due to his lack of size and his ability to cut weight so easily. Cormier would win his first fight at the new weight against Patrick Cummins, a replacement for an injured Rashad Evans, by TKO in the 1st round. Next up would be Hall-of-Famer Dan Henderson, who DC would dominate using his wrestling and win by rear-naked-choke. This would setup a scheduled fight with rival and then champion, Jon Jones, for the UFC LHW belt.

DC was initially going to replace an injured Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 178 against Jones, but Jones also had an injury leading up to the fight, which forced the UFC to reschedule for UFC 182. There, Jones would retain his belt and win the fight relatively ‘easy’ and by unanimous decision but both fighters were rewarded with a Fight of the Night bonus. Cormier was then scheduled to face Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 68, but with the announcement of Jones’ indefinite suspension from his traffic accident in New Mexico, DC replaced him in a fight with challenger Anthony Johnson for the vacant title at UFC 187. DC would get rocked early and knocked down in that fight with Johnson but would recover and eventually win by rear-naked-choke. Not only would DC be champion but he would also earn himself another bonus with Performance of the Night. This would setup a fight with Gustafsson, who gave previous champion Jon Jones his closest fight, and would do the same with DC, as the champ would win a narrow split decision over the challenger.

A rematch was schedule with Jones for UFC 197 but DC had to pull out with injury. Another rematch was set for the historic UFC 200 card, but Jones was suspended for a potential doping violation. Instead Cormier would fight the great Anderson Silva, winning by unanimous decision. This setup his rematch with Anthony Johnson this past weekend at UFC 210 where Johnson took the most dumbfounded game-plan and tried to outwrestle DC, who as previously mentioned is a world-class wrestler. Well, the game plan proved to be a failure and DC would win, again, by rear-naked-choke and Johnson would verbally retire in the Octagon in his interview with Joe Rogan. The win could be somewhat marred in the towel scandal at the weigh-in and Johnson’s subsequent appeal but let’s face it, Johnson didn’t win that fight because of his game plan… Not DC’s “miraculous” 1.2 pound weight cut the day prior.

Love him or hate him, DC just keeps trucking along. I read an analogy calling DC the dump truck and Jon Jones the sports car of the UFC’s LHW division. Perhaps this explains the disdain fans have for DC… or the ideology that DC didn’t win his belt, of no fault to his own, against the “best”. DC isn’t flashy but the guy can fight… and more importantly, he’s a winner. Coming off of a 45 day medical suspension and on the heals of Jon Jones return, I would imagine the next fight up for DC is a rematch with Jones, unless our very own Keith Shillan is correct with his prediction in his “Who’s Next” article; http://themmatakeover.com/whos-next/. If I’m right, let’s see if DC can avenge his only career loss and even up the score of the self-proclaimed “best fighter on the planet. I’d imagine if he does, the cheers may outweigh the boos this time. 

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