Daniel Cormier is a former Wrestler an haqve competed at the highest level an now he’s a MMA Champion with a lose from Jon Jones.
TAP: What have you been up to today?
Daniel Cormier: I’ve been hanging out, killing my teammates in video games, putting them in their places and letting them know not to even try to take me on at these games, it’s ridiculous. I’ve always said my gamer tag is ScapularBlock3 on Xbox One, and anybody that wants it in NBA 2k16 or Madden 16 can get it.
TAP: When you watched Gustafsson’s fights with Johnson and Jones, did you happen to find a universal weak spot in his game that stood out to you as advantageous to your own style?
Daniel Cormier: Not really. He’s a solid fighter, but we all have spots that people can take advantage of. I’ve been able to find a couple of those spots in Alexander Gustafsson. He has a few habits inside the Octagon that I think I could exploit.
Overall he’s a pretty solid guy. He does a good job of wrestling offensively and defensively, he’s obviously a great striker and he has great cardio, but there are a few technical things I think we may be able to exploit.
TAP: You have been very complimentary of Jones in the past, even offering support during the tumultuous year he’s had, and you gave a very classy response to the result of his hearing. Bearing that in mind, most folks that have continuous personal issues tend to fall into negative behavioral patterns, do you think that’ll be a problem for Jon?
Daniel Cormier: It’s very difficult to make a 100% turnaround. It’s tough when you actually do exhibit patterns of bad behavior. You need to have a very strong support system of people who are willing to keep you in your place if you’re going to overcome these things.
These are the things that Jon is going to need as he moves forward in his life and his career. Jon is still a young guy, he’s not even 30. In two years time, if things go back to being the way they were before, he’ll run into these issues again. Hopefully he’ll get the right people around him and they’ll keep him in line.
He’s not getting off scot-free, you know? Seventy speaking engagements is a lot, especially for a guy like Jones who is so busy with his fights, his family and his sponsorship appearances and everything. That’s not an easy thing to do in 18 months. It may seem like the punishment isn’t very big, a lot of people thought he would get jail time, but this isn’t just a slap on the wrist.
TAP: Do you think people sometimes ask you about him because they want you to say you want him to fail?
Daniel Cormier: Listen, bad blood. Anger. Issues. People buy into that, people like that stuff. People like it when they see two guys that genuinely have a disdain for each other, but this is life. This isn’t just fighting. We’re not just talking about the guy’s fighting career, we’re talking about his life. Think about the people that are involved in his life. His dad is nothing but a gentleman, always has been. He was very nice to me after the fight. His mom is a very nice lady, so is his family, his wife and his children.
That’s a lot of people [who are affected]. If I’m sitting here hoping this guy fails in life, I’m hoping bad on all of these people, not just him. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I hope that he gets everything together and that he’s able to get back to doing what he does well, and to provide the life his kids are accustomed to make sure they don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of their lives.
TAP: A fight with Jones is a ways off, but it’s one that’s bound to happen again at some point. If you were in Jon Jones’ shoes, would you want to take a tune up fight, or would you jump right back in and fight you for the title?
Daniel Cormier: I would just jump right in. He won the last fight against me and he hasn’t been gone that long. He was scheduled to fight four months ago, so he hasn’t been gone that long. I would go right into the title shot. He’s had times where he’s been on the sideline and hasn’t defended his belt very actively, so I would just jump right in, I wouldn’t take too much time.
TAP: At what point, if ever, do your endless media obligations start to wear on your nerves or get overwhelming?
Daniel Cormier: Monday. Monday was tough. Monday was the first time I was like, ‘Man, I wish I didn’t have to do this.’ I got up at 4:30am, got up and ran, hit some pads and had to be at the lobby at 6:30am to go on a media day in L.A. It was rough. I did an interview with Fox Sports Deportes at around 3:30 in the afternoon, the guy asked me a question, and I was sleeping. I actually sat in front of the Skype screen sleeping. I fell asleep, and I started to answer the question as if I heard him, then I was like, ‘Wait.’ My brain woke up like, ‘Shit. I was sleeping. I have no idea what this guy just asked me.’ He was looking at the Skype screen and he must have been like, ‘Is this guy sleeping?’ It was so bad.
That’s the first time that has ever happened, but at that point I was so glad the day was done. I was tired. When I got into Texas at like 1am I was going to sit in the sauna but by nutritionist told me just to get some rest. I did that, and I was only 218 lbs on Tuesday morning, so it didn’t hurt anything.
TAP: We’ve seen guys in the lighter weight classes struggle to draw well on pay-per-view events. Demetrious Johnson has been having a hard time despite delivering incredible, dominant performances. Do you think casual fans just aren’t ready for the smaller guys to headline big cards?
Daniel Cormier: I don’t know what the disconnect is. People like to call themselves fans of fighting and fans of the sport, but if you’re a fan of fighting how can you not like watching Demetrious Johnson? He’s the best at it. He’s the pound for pound best fighter in the world. Why wouldn’t you enjoy watching that guy perform? He does a phenomenal job every time he’s in there. He makes world beaters look like amateurs. He’s so much better than everybody else that he makes phenomenal fighters look like they don’t even belong in there with him.
I don’t know what the disconnect is. It’s crazy to me that guys don’t want to watch DJ fight. I think he’s phenomenal. It’s crazy. I think they’re ready, though. We’ve seen smaller guys in main event fights and they do well, it just takes the right combination of people I think. I think Dominick Cruz v. T.J.Dillashaw could have main-evented a PPV and done pretty good.
TAP: Some fighters are struggling to adjust to the dramatic changes in their sponsor money since the Reebok deal came into force. Have you managed to work out deals with your sponsors to represent them outside of the Octagon?
Daniel Cormier: We’ve done a couple of things outside of the Octagon, but you just have to get creative. Start selling your own T-shirts, find a partner. Someone will help you make money outside of the Octagon. It’s not that hard. Obviously I’m talking from a different position from a lot of people because I have the championship and I’ve been in the top 5 for so long, but you have to try to be a little creative, you know? Just try new things to supplement your income. The Reebok deal was a game change, but now we’re just like every other sport around the world.
TAP: We’ve seen guys like Aljamain Sterling and Matt Mitrione talk about having difficulty getting fights. At one point you also struggled to get fights. Is there a trick to keeping yourself constantly on the active list or is it down to the luck of the draw? What advice would you give to these guys?
Daniel Cormier: It’s kind of the luck of the draw. I was lucky at Strikeforce because I was able to fight in different organizations, but these guys are in a different situation. The thing about Aljamain is he is so fricking good that it’s time for him to start fighting the best guys in the division, but those guys really don’t fight that often. He’s in a tricky situation. I would say just keep on bugging these guys, keep telling them you want a fight.
You have to be very vocal about being willing to fight anyone. Aljamain wants to fight the best guys, because he is one of the best guys, but you have to be OK with fighting guys who are ranked beneath you. If he’s OK doing that I think they may be a little more open to giving him random fights.
TAP: With MMA being something of a young man’s sport, what do you consider to be the key to longevity?
Daniel Cormier: Just take care of yourself. When you’re younger, you can train hard and beat the walls down with your head, but as you get older, train a little bit smarter. Find people who can help you, people that are willing to take some of the burden off of you. As you get older and have a family, and have kids, you have to find people who can help you and take some of the burden off of you. I’ve also been lucky in that I started MMA a little bit older, so I haven’t taken as much damage or been beaten up as much as some of the younger guys.
TAP: Speaking of guys who have been in the sport for a long time, a former opponent of yours, Josh Barnett just headlined the UFC show in Japan. What did you think of his performance?
Daniel Cormier: I thought he fought amazing. I thought Josh looked amazing. If Josh fights like that he can fight with the best heavyweights in the world. The dude was moving forward the whole time and throwing beautiful combinations. Roy Nelson just has a granite chin, as we all know, which is why Josh wasn’t able to finish him. Most mortal men would have gone down at some point during that fight. Roy Nelson is just not of this world, he’s a savage.
TAP: Do you have any advice for fighters at the start of their career?
Daniel Cormier: Know that it’s slow at the beginning. The start is tough and the money isn’t great, but train hard and hit the gym every single day, even though it gets monotonous and you feel like you’re living in Groundhog Day. If you commit to the sport, if you keep pressing forward, and keep believing in yourself, eventually it’ll turn around. Even if you don’t become the UFC or Bellator champion, you will have a great career that you can look back on proudly. That’s what we’ve done as a team at AKA. When we look back at what AKA did with Daniel Cormier in the last 5 or 6 years, we can all be proud of it. I am forever indebted to all of my training partners, coaches, friends and family who have played a part in this journey.