UFC 230 had its share of issues leading up to Saturday’s event at Madison Square Garden, including the promotion’s well-documented struggles to find a suitable headliner.
The card was on the brink of having disaster strike again after Daniel Cormier threw out his back while sneezing hours before his heavyweight title defense against Derrick Lewis.
“I hurt myself this morning bad,” Cormier said at the UFC 230 post-fight press conference on Saturday night. “Sometimes I go into the Octagon, and I hear in the build-up, ‘When is this guy going to get old?’ It could happen overnight. I thought it happened this morning when I sneezed, and I slipped my back out. I was hurting bad. Like seriously. We got some pictures that we may release later in the week. I sneezed, and because I sneezed my back slipped out. I tried to do my morning run, and it wasn’t happening.”
Cormier, who turns 40 in March, said he received treatment from UFC Performance Institute staff after the unfortunate incident. Still, things weren’t progressing as much as Cormier would have liked. Suddenly, a last-minute withdrawal seemed like a serious possibility.
“At around 12, 1 o’clock it was to the point where I was kind of singed over and leaning and [AKA coach] Bob Cook was all, ‘If you don’t get better then we’re going to have to make a decision on whether or not you’re going to fight,'” Cormier said. “It was real close.”
Ultimately, Cormier’s back loosened up a little bit later and he was able to compete on Saturday night. The back didn’t seem to cause “DC” any problems, as he cruised to a second-round submission of Lewis to retain his heavyweight strap. Apparently, all it took was a nap and a walk.
“I said just let me take a nap. If you let me take a nap, I’ll see if I feel better,” Cormier said. “And I woke up and I went for a walk. When I went for a walk and got active, my back started to release a little bit.
“It was very scary because I had no idea how we were going to explain that one,” he added. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to explain this when I sneezed and hurt my back.’ That’s getting old. That’s what that is.”