For whatever reason, Daniel Cormier has not emerged as a fan favorite during his reign as UFC light heavyweight champion.
Case in point: At a press conference early last year held to promote Cormier’s rematch with Jon Jones at UFC 197 -- Cormier would ultimately withdraw from the bout due to injury -- fans booed “DC” while cheering the controversial Jones . This was in spite of a tumultuous 2015 for Jones in which he tested positive for cocaine, was arrested for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident that injured a pregnant woman and was suspended and stripped of the 205-pound title. The reaction that day clearly perplexed and hurt Cormier.
“As I address these people in here, I say to you: Guys, I’ve been sober; I haven’t done all these things; I didn’t wreck my vehicle; I haven’t been suspended; I didn’t get stripped of my championship. I didn’t do all those things,” Cormier said then. “Guys, these are normal things that adult human beings do. You cheer this guy for saying he’s not going to do these things anymore. I have done this my entire life. But you boo me. Thank you.”
Cormier and Jones still haven’t gotten their rematch, as a UFC 200 booking fell through when it was revealed Jones failed a pre-fight drug test just days before the bout. He will be eligible to return next summer.
Meanwhile, Cormier still holds the 205-pound belt, and he is still far from the most popular champion on the UFC roster. Some of that is a matter of style: When he faced Anderson Silva on short notice at UFC 200, he used a grinding approach to take a dominant three-round verdict that drew boos from those in attendance. However, Cormier has had entertaining bouts too, such as his victory over Anthony Johnson to claim the vacant light heavyweight strap at UFC 187 and his first successful defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192.
UFC President Dana White doesn’t understand why Cormier draws the reaction he does.
“It’s the weirdest thing ever that he has not been embraced by the fans,” White said on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd. “He’s a great guy. He’s very well spoken. And his fights are exciting. Cormier is an exciting fighter. They like the bad boy Jon Jones. Last time we had a press conference with those two they were cheering Jon Jones and booing Cormier. It’s fascinating. I don’t get it. It is what it is.”
Cormier will make his second title defense when he faces Johnson in a rematch in the UFC 210 headliner at the Keybank Arena in Buffalo on Saturday. On a related note, Jones is expected to be in attendance over the weekend to address the media.