POLLOCK’S MMA UPDATE: The Legacy of Daniel Cormier

The legacy of Daniel Cormier heading into UFC 252 and a look at his career, two fighters miss weight, Cerrone vs. Price, Dana White notes.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I will be LIVE tonight at 10:15 pm Eastern for Rewind-A-SmackDown following tonight’s show. We will have a rundown of the show, news of the day, and take your phone calls. This show is available LIVE for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**We have our UFC 252 Preview Show with guest James Lynch posted on the site. The two of us previewed the main fights for Saturday’s card and also discussed the future for Michael Chandler, Dana White’s Contender Series, and the impact the pandemic could have on the MMA media industry.

**On Saturday night, it’s the UFC 252 POST Show with Phil Chertok, and I reviewing the card immediately after the main event LIVE & FREE on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel.

**Next Tuesday, Rewind-A-Wai #67 will cover the WWF Royal Rumble from 2001 as voted on by our listeners. You can post feedback and questions for this show on the POST Wrestling Forum.

MMA NEWS

**On Saturday, one of the most prolific combat sports athletes is expected to fight for the final time. Daniel Cormier will walk into the octagon at the age of 41 in search of leaving the sport as its heavyweight champion.

The career of Cormier could have been contained to his wrestling days that ended after the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing when his kidneys shut down and he could not make weight. This followed a fourth-place finish at the Athens Games four years prior and would have overshadowed the many accomplishments throughout his amateur career.

But Cormier found a new outlet and passion putting on boxing gloves and learning a different dimension that would lead to his next career in Mixed Martial Arts. He hooked up with AKA in San Jose, California, and served as a link to Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker. Cormier didn’t have his pro fight until he was 30 years old and it was impossible to predict it was the start of one of the greatest careers of all-time.

Cormier posted victories against unheralded fighters, his most impressive on-paper against Soa Palelei in Australia in 2010. He kept busy fighting five times in 2010 and caught his break one year later.

Coker and Strikeforce launched the Heavyweight Grand Prix and was its most ambitious undertaking to date on Showtime. Alistair Overeem was removed from the tournament and Cormier, who had been an alternate, got his shot and squared off with Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in September 2011. In this era, Silva had just beaten Fedor Emelianenko and was considered a top heavyweight against relative unknown Cormier. It Cormier’s coming out party stopping Big Foot in the first round and propelling the two-time Olympian to the finals where he defeated Josh Barnett and was the winner of the prestigious Grand Prix.

Strikeforce had been purchased by Zuffa in 2011 but kept operating on Showtime before closing shop in 2013 with many fighters migrating to the UFC. This included Cormier who entered as a heavyweight despite close friend and training partner Cain Velasquez holding the heavyweight championship. After wins against former champion Frank Mir and perennial contender Roy Nelson, Cormier made the cut down to light heavyweight, which was daunting given the memories of 2008 for Cormier.

Cormier never missed weight at light heavyweight and would forever be linked to the star of the light heavyweight division, Jon Jones.

They first met at an event where allegedly Jones made a flippant remark about Cormier and there was uneasiness between them from that initial meeting. It was the obvious fight to make at 205 pounds and Jones desperately needed a rival to take his career to the next level as the dominant fighter of his era. It escalated in the summer of 2014 at a press conference in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel that escalated to a brawl that got very ugly.

This was ahead of their scheduled fight in September that was delayed until January 2015 at UFC 182. By fight time, the grudge had reached peak levels and it was viewed as Jones’ toughest opponent to date. However, Jones won the fight convincingly over five rounds and made no apologies afterward, going so far as to mock Cormier when the horn sounded to end the fight and later stating he hoped Cormier was crying about the loss.

As consistent a fighter as Jones was inside the cage, he was equally erratic outside of it. In April 2015, he fled the scene of a hit-and-run in Albuquerque, New Mexico weeks before a scheduled title defense with Anthony Johnson. With Jones facing charges, he was stripped of the title and Cormier was inserted to fight Johnson and won the vacant title. It was a tough sell for the public to accept Cormier as champion when he didn’t beat Jones and the memory of Jones’ victory at UFC 182 fresh in their minds.

Cormier had one of the best fights of that time period against Alexander Gustafsson in October 2015, which was a five-round war and a true championship performance from Cormier that silenced some critics who had to respect the victory. Jones remained a shadow over Cormier’s title run but one mistake after another curtailed their rivalry. A scheduled rematch at UFC 200 in July 2016 fell apart the week of the fight when the results of a June pre-fight drug test revealed clomiphene and letrozole in his system. The UFC production team filmed the scene where Dana White informed Cormier that the fight was off, and his reaction will always stick with me.

On several days’ notice, Anderson Silva stepped in and fought Cormier in a non-title fight with Cormier winning by decision while the main event slot went to Amanda Nunes and her bantamweight title victory over Miesha Tate.

The rematch between Cormier and Jones was delayed a full year and finally happened in August 2017. Cormier looked strong over the first two rounds, but a head kick landed cleanly in the third, which was Cormier’s undoing, and once again, Jones reigned supreme although presented a much humbler acceptance of victory than their previous meeting. Weeks later, Jones tested positive for Turinabol and the title was returned to Cormier with their fight rules a no-contest. The latest screw-up by Jones could not be tolerated by the public, who realized that Jones may be the better fighter, but he wasn’t the better person and Jones had let them down too many times. The acceptance of Cormier was met, and this was when Cormier’s star rose to a legendary level.

Not only had Cormier been part of some big fights but he was also endearing himself as an analyst for the UFC and came off as one of the genuine good guys in the sport and someone to applaud and place on a pedestal with faith he wouldn’t screw up as his predecessor at light heavyweight had for the latest time.

He finally separated his legacy from being attached to Jones, when he beat Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July 2018 as Cormier returned to heavyweight and became its champion. By then, Velasquez’s future in the sport was questionable having not fought since 2016 and hampered by injuries. Cormier was a two-division champion holding both titles and now in the conversation among the best of all-time. He would vacate the light heavyweight, which ended up back around Jones’ waist. Cormier would defend the title against Derrick Lewis in November 2018 but fell in the rematch to Miocic last summer at UFC 241 after a brilliant shift in strategy by Miocic in the fourth round attacking Cormier’s body.

Win or lose on Saturday, Cormier will go down as one of the best to ever compete at either weight class and a true ambassador for a sport that needed someone of Cormier’s demeanor and stature. He could have been remembered as the guy that messed up at the Olympics or fell short to Jon Jones and yet, the man always moved forward and redefined the perception cast upon him. It’s a remarkable career he’s had and could be one of the greatest send-offs in MMA history, or a bitter pill to swallow that at 41 years old, that time forces every fighter to confront their limitations.

**Below is the full fight card for UFC 252 on Saturday night from the UFC APEX with results from Friday’s weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Stipe Miocic (233) vs. Daniel Cormier (236) for the UFC heavyweight title
*Sean O’Malley (136) vs. Marlon Vera (136)
*Junior dos Santos (238.5) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (254)
*Herbert Burns (149.5*) vs. Daniel Pineda (146)
*John Dodson (136) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (136)

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Jim Miller (156) vs. Vinc Pichel (156)
*Felice Herrig (116) vs. Virna Jandiroba (115.5)
*TJ Brown (146.5*) vs. Danny Chavez (146)
*Ashley Yoder (115.5) vs. Livinha Souza (115.5)

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD (7 pm)

*Chris Daukaus (241) vs. Parker Porter (264.5)
*Tony Kelley (145.5) vs. Kai Kamaka (145.5)

**Herbert Burns missed the featherweight limit by 3.5 pounds and TJ Brown missed by 0.5 pounds with both fined 20% of their purses.

**In their first fight in July 2018, Cormier weighed 246 pounds and Miocic was 242.5. In the August 2019 rematch, Cormier was 236.5 and Miocic was 230.5.

**ESPN’s Brett Okamoto spoke with Dana White prior to UFC 252 with the following notes from the interview:
*White was late for the press conference on Thursday because he was on the phone with Joe Rogan, who told White he felt honored to be able to be one of the few in the building for Saturday’s fight
*White doesn’t believe Daniel Cormier is retiring regardless of the outcome
*He said “there is no plan” when asked about the potential of Cormier winning and trying to make a third fight with Jon Jones
*Cody Garbrandt wanted to move down in the weight and they liked the idea of the title fight with Deiveson Figueiredo, which has been announced for UFC 254 in November
*Tony Ferguson is in Las Vegas and they are talking but didn’t reveal any details
*He doesn’t have to offer Conor McGregor three fights per year because he is retired and has not discussed fighting with him
*They are waiting to hear back from Jon Jones and expects a light heavyweight title before the end of 2020
*White repeated that you cannot pull off sports without a bubble and you can’t cut corners along with multiple testing

**Dana White spoke to The Schmo and stated that Francis Ngannou is next in line for the UFC heavyweight title.

**Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports that Donald Cerrone will fight Niko Price on September 19th. Cerrone (35-15, 1 no-contest) had lost his last four fights and competed twice this year. He was stopped by Conor McGregor in January in forty seconds and then dropped a decision to Anthony Pettis at UFC 249 in May. Price (14-4, 1 no-contest) is coming off a TKO loss to Vicente Luque at the same UFC 249 event.

**Marc Raimondi at ESPN has a great feature with comments from both Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier and their coaches.

**The UFC has added a light heavyweight fight between Ovince Saint Preux and Alonzo Menifield for the Fight Night card next Saturday on August 22nd. This comes after news that Yoel Romero was off the card for his fight with Uriah Hall. The Fight Night card will be headlined by a bantamweight fight between Frankie Edgar and Pedro Munhoz. Saint Preux (24-14) has lost three of his last four fights and is coming off a split decision loss to Ben Rothwell while Menifield (9-1) lost his first pro fight in June at UFC 250 by unanimous decision to Devin Clark.

**Bellator has signed Valerie Loureda to a multi-fight contract extension. Loureda (3-0) is 22-years old and fights out of American Top Team. She made her pro debut with Bellator in February 2019 and has defeated Colby Fletcher, Larkyn Dasch, and just beat Tara Graff last weekend.

**Below is the latest edition of UFC Embedded prior to UFC 252:

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John Pollock is joined by MMA reporter & analyst James Lynch to preview the UFC 252 card headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/08/13/ufc-252-preview-show-with-john-pollock-james-lynch/
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https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/08/13/upnxt-8-12-20-blinded-by-the-light/
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Wai Ting & John Pollock kick off their look back at the greatest combat sports film franchise of all time with a review of Rocky (1976), written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/40357529/
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REWIND-A-RAW 8/10/20: Kamala Passes Away, Flair Punted, G1 Schedule
John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss WWE Raw featuring the return of Raw Underground and Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens with a big angle to end the show. Plus, we discuss the passing of Kamala, Fozzy performing this past weekend, and NJPW’s G1 Climax 30 schedule.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/08/11/rewind-a-raw-8-10-20-kamala-passes-away-flair-punted-g1-schedule/
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THE LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD w/ guest Daniel Makabe
WH Park and independent wrestler Daniel Makabe discuss a hidden gem tag match as Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi take on Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue from AJPW’s January 26, 1992, Korakuen Hall show.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/08/09/lwrr-2-tsuruta-taue-vs-kobashi-kikuchi-1-26-92-w-daniel-makabe/
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POST PURORESU: G1 Climax, Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix, Mailbag Q&A
John Pollock & WH Park are joined by Dylan Fox to chat about the G1 Climax schedule, Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix, and a mailbag Q&A segment.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/08/08/post-puroresu-g1-climax-stardoms-5-star-gp-qa/
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About John Pollock 2008 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling.He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.