No matter what he does, Daniel Cormier just can’t seem to find favor with the fickle MMA fanbase.
When Jon Jones, newly reinstated after pleading guilty to fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in hit-and-run accident that occurred last year, was treated as a conquering hero while Cormier was booed during the UFC’s “Unstoppable” press conference in March, “DC” was hurt and confused by the reaction.
But when those in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena showered the Octagon with boos as Cormier imposed his will against last-minute foe Anderson Silva at UFC 200 on Saturday night, in a bout that was the by-product of a possible anti-doping policy violation by Jones, the reigning light heavyweight king simply shrugged it off.
“I can’t really pay attention to that anymore. The first time it happened I kinda got angry. I was upset and I tried to explain it; it just didn’t make any sense,” Cormier said. “But now, I can’t really try and dictate people’s emotions. I can only take care of what I can take care of. People don’t understand the situation that I’ve been in over the course of this last week. For me to go out and get a victory over someone like Anderson Silva, that’s enough for me.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Cormier and Jones faced off following a pre-UFC 200 press conference. On Wednesday night, Cormier didn’t know if he was even going to be able to compete on a card he was originally scheduled to headline. In the interim, Jones was notified by USADA of a potential anti-doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition drug test last month.
“What was extremely difficult was the day that Jon was not able to fight anymore,” Cormier said. “A lot of emotion goes into this preparation. When I left that press conference I had to go directly to the gym to continue doing what I was trying to do to make weight. They weren’t telling me anything. They couldn’t tell me for sure I was gonna fight until late Thursday. All the uncertainty was very difficult. But I went out there and I fought. A lot of people out there would not do it. The risk vs. the reward was not in my favor.”
When faced with one of the sport’s most dangerous strikers in Silva, Cormier returned to his roots and dominated “The Spider” with his wrestling. While it wasn’t the most enthralling effort, it was undeniably effective, as Silva struggled to move under his foe’s heavy top pressure.
“I stood in there a little bit at times and we traded some shots. A couple times I almost went back to the way I fought against [Alexander] Gustafsson, where he hit me and I wanted to hit him back, but I’ve got to be smarter than that,” Cormier said. “The circumstances under which this fight came together, it really was a tough situation for me to go into. How do I win? You don’t just knock Anderson Silva out in one minute, two minutes. He’s too good for that. He’s the greatest fighter we’ve ever seen. He’s got a lot of experience.
“I fought to the best of my ability and he did a good job of staying in there. I’ve got to wrestle. It’s what I do.”
Anything else would have been an unnecessary risk in what amounted to a lose-lose situation.
“Reality is, it would have been catastrophic if I would have lost tonight. Because I would still be the champion but have lost to the guy that would have went down to middleweight and challenged for the belt. I did what I needed to do,” he said.
Depending on how the appeal process plays out, Jones could be looking at a two-year suspension for his failed drug test. If that happens, Cormier knows that realistically he will have to close the book on their rivalry. Father Time is most unforgiving in such situations, and besides, it’s not like there aren’t other options at light heavyweight.
“Well, I’m not gonna wait for him for two years. I’m 37. I think I’ll probably fight the winner of [Anthony Johnso] and Glover Teixeira, it just seems like it makes the most sense,” he said. “Those guys are all well deserving. They’ve all won fights in a row and both deserve title shots. I think we need to see what happens with Jon. Let him get through that and then see what’s gonna happen next. With all that’s going on, the focus can’t be fighting, it has to be figuring this out.”
All things considered, the end result of UFC 200 has to be considered a success for Cormier. It wasn’t what he expected it to be, but he made the best of a trying situation. In an unpredictable and sometimes volatile sport, that’s all one can do.
“It was a very difficult week. It [went from the] high of seeing my face inside of T-Mobile Arena to the ultimate low on Wednesday when Jon was out of the fight to starting to hear that Anderson may fight me to not really knowing until Friday morning,” Cormier said. “Still trying to make weight, my body wasn’t reacting the way I wanted it to anymore with the stress of everything. It was a long week. But right now I feel relieved. Anderson did this on two days notice. He went out there and fought as hard as he could. So all respect to him.”