The Journey of DC: Daniel Cormier, the Double Champ

Let me start this off by first saying I wasn’t always the biggest supporter of Daniel Cormier. I have to say this because before July 7th, 2018 and before I saw that iconic picture above, I always doubted DC, and I wasn’t the only one.

Before facing Jon Jones for the first time and igniting which is still somewhat of a circus rivalry, Daniel Cormier was on a 15-fight undefeated win streak. He captured the XMMA and KOTC heavyweight championship, won the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix and won two fights at heavyweight in the UFC before moving down to light heavyweight. Then there’s the first Jon Jones fight for the light heavyweight a title. A fight where ‘DC’ looked good early before Jones found his groove.

After Jones’ troubles surfaced for the first time, Daniel Cormier faced the resurgent Anthony Johnson, who was looking like a monster after returning to the UFC and finding his home at light heavyweight. Daniel Cormier became the UFC light heavyweight champion after the title had become vacant, defending it twice before meeting Jones again.

The second Jones fight was an even worse result for Cormier, where he became a meme for America. Well, Jones’ troubles reared their ugly head again and Cormier was a champion once more, not on his terms, but a champion nonetheless. Now let’s go back to two weeks ago, Daniel Cormier moves back up to heavyweight to face what some will call the greatest heavyweight ever in Stipe Miocic, and shocks the world by knocking out the champion in the first round, becoming the newest ‘champ champ’.

Has there ever been a fighter on more of a crazy, emotional and tougher rollercoaster than Daniel Cormier?

Beginnings at Strikeforce

Daniel Cormier started at Strikeforce back in 2009 at 30-years-old. After starting his career 7-0, his first real test was against veteran Jeff Monson, who was 42-11 at the time. Cormier dominated the fight from start to finish, and before the fight was the first time he entertained moving down to light heavyweight.

After Monson came Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, who was coming off a win over one of the greats, Fedor EmelianenkoCormier answered the call with a crushing uppercut and some hammer strikes to finish Bigfoot off in the first round and advance to the finals of the Grand Prix.

In the final, Daniel Cormier had the task of defeating former UFC heavyweight champion, former Pancrase open weight champion and PRIDE veteran Josh BarnettCormier easily won every round, and had become a heavyweight everyone was paying attention to. After that fight, Cormier said:

“I just want to focus on the fact I just beat Josh Barnett. One year ago, that’s not something I thought I could do.”

Who knew that was just the tip of the iceberg?

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UFC: From Heavyweight to Light Heavyweight

After Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, LLC, most of the fighters on the roster came over to the UFC. Daniel Cormier‘s first UFC fight was no easy task. Frank Mir was a two-time UFC heavyweight champion and was coming off a loss to then-champion Junior dos Santos, which could have been his third run with the title. This was a fight that was supposed to happen at Strikeforce before Mir had to withdrawal with an injury. Cormier controlled the clinch, kept Mir against the cage so he couldn’t get going, and won a pretty clean unanimous decision.

Next for Cormier was the Ultimate Fighter 10 winner ‘Big Country’ Roy Nelson. Nelson is heavy-handed and an underrated grappler, having 12 knockouts and 5 submissions in his 19 wins at the time. The thing Cormier always had going for him at heavyweight was that he was usually faster than his opponents, and that showed in the Nelson fight.

DC moved down to light heavyweight after that fight, deciding to go after that championship, since his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez was heavyweight champ at the time.

Rashad Evans was set to welcome DC to the division, but a knee injury took him off the card. Patrick Cummins, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, who also helped Cormier prepare during the 2004 Olympics, stepped in. The bad blood started early when Cummins claimed to make Cormier cry during their time together in 2004.

The result was payback for Cormier, who used his uppercut, which has been his bread and butter in the octagon, to stop Cummins in just over a minute.

DC’s final fight before arguably the best rivalry in sports started was against former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson. This iconic moment from the fight basically shows how it went.

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UFC 182: Jones Vs. Cormier

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Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, troubles aside, is the best fighter to ever grace the octagon. That’s my opinion. Jones also is the only fighter Daniel Cormier has not been able to figure out.

The rivalry started way back in 2010 when Jones first met Cormier after his 5th win in a row at Strikeforce. Jones had heard about Cormier‘s wrestling pedigree and told him: “I bet you that I could take you down.”

Taking that as a dig, the seed was planted, and five years later at UFC 182, they were finally standing across the cage from each other. Cormier made it as much as a dogfight as he could, having some success when inside, but the length and reach of Jones were too much, the unanimous decision went Jones’ way.

Post-Jones

At UFC 187, Jon Jones was set to defend his title against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. A former middleweight who was on a 9-fight win streak. Unfortunately, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run incident that saw him stripped of the title and Rumble was in need of an opponent. In steps Daniel Cormier, who took a hard shot early in the first round and looked in trouble, but recovered and controlled the rest of the fight until he secured the submission in the third and finally became a UFC champion. He also had this to say after his win.

It all seemed like a rematch was in the cards, but with Jones’ lingering troubles, Alexander Gustafsson was next in line and ready for redemption after losing a split decision in a title fight to Jones two years earlier.

Cormier won the first round, landing another takedown that will go down as another iconic moment. The second round went to Gustafsson, who scored a couple takedowns of his own and opened Cormier up with some clinch work. The third round was all DC, using his uppercuts in the clinch to tag Gus up until Gustafsson landed a knee that rocked Cormier.

It was a close fight that wound up going to a split decision in favour of Daniel Cormier. This was the fight that made DC a “better fighter.”

MMA: UFC 192-Cormier vs Gustafsson

DC and Jones were set to meet again at UFC 200 during International Fight Week after the original main event fell through, but three days before the event, Jones was pulled due to a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection. A heartbroken DC didn’t take the news well, and offered to fight anyone else as long as it “made sense.” In stepped the legend Anderson Silva. It was a non-title bout that was very underwhelming, but a unanimous decision win for DC nonetheless.

At UFC 210 Daniel Cormier rematched Anthony Johnson. The second fight went almost exactly like the first fight, and with Jones’ troubles seemingly behind him and with him also in attendance, the rematch we’ve all been waiting for was on.

UFC 214: Cormier Vs. Jones 2

The build-up to this fight was great, Jones had the dropped the so-called ‘good guy’ act and was embracing his ‘darker side.’ This seemed to resonate with the fans, who were cheering for Jones over DC. Why cheer for the guy who has let you down twice already? Who hasn’t followed the rules? Who hasn’t been a role model? These were the questions DC had to be wondering while he was getting booed, while he was having wars and defending the title for the past two years.

In the third round Jones caught Cormier with a head kick that wobbled him, after finally hitting the mat, Jones pounced on him and ended his night with punches.

About a month later, Jones was again notified of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation collected after the UFC 214 weigh-ins. He was stripped of the title and Cormier was reinstated as champion.

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UFC: From Light Heavyweight back to Heavyweight

With Jon Jones behind him, Cormier was looking ahead, and next in line was the 15-1 Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir, who burst on to the scene with two first-round knockouts in under a minute.

DC was just too much for the less experienced Oezdemir and ended the fight with a second-round knockout.

Who was left for DC? The division had become shallow with fighters out due to suspensions or injuries, and the UFC jumped at the opportunity at a “super fight”. Daniel Cormier was moving back up to heavyweight to take on the current heavyweight champion who was on a 6-fight win streak and stopping everybody in his path.

Stipe Miocic, who many were considering the best heavyweight of all time due to his résumé, was a heavy favourite heading into this fight. Cormier got inside and landed a short elbow which put Miocic out in the first round.

The T-Mobile Arena erupted, Daniel Cormier was the ‘champ, champ’.

It’s been one hell of a ride for Daniel Cormier. He’s stated he only wants two more fights before calling it a career. A light heavyweight title defence – which at the time could be anyone from Corey Anderson to Ilir Latifi to even a returning Jon Jones from suspension. (Alexander Gustafsson is injured and DC has already addressed he’s moved on from trying to make the rematch happen.)

And of course, there’s the heavyweight title defence against Brock Lesnar, who is returning to the UFC after storming the cage after UFC 226 and calling Cormier out.

What’s going to happen? Who knows, what we know for sure is that Daniel Cormier is a warrior, he’s everything a champion should be and he’s cemented himself as one of the best fighters this sport has ever had.

It’s time to give him his respect.

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