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On Daniel Cormier, Patrick Cummins, Dana White, and The Shove

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- The first sign that Patrick Cummins was finally starting to get under Daniel Cormier's skin came early in Thursday's UFC 170 press conference at Mandalay Bay.

"I feel like we've gotten really close this past week," Cummins said to his Saturday night opponent. "So I'm not calling you Daniel, I'm calling you Dan, are you OK with that?"

"And I'm going to beat you up on Saturday, are you OK with that?" Cormier snapped.

Later in the presser, as UFC president Dana White said that Cummins' story, as he went from coffee-shop barista to UFC co-main evener in the span of 10 days, was "a real-life Rocky story," Cormier forced a half-smile, half-grimace.

There has been understandable skepticism about the UFC's pushing of the storyline to this light heavyweight fight between the 13-0 Cormier and the 4-0 Cummins, which came together last week, after Rashad Evans had to pull out of a bout with Cormier due to a knee injury.

But if this is entirely an act, then Cormier deserves an Oscar nomination. Before White could square Cormier and Cummins off for their post-fight pose for the benefit of photographers, Cormier marched up to Cummins and gave him a two-handed shove.

"I don't know, I wasn't expecting that," White said afterwards. "I didn't see that coming or I never would have let them get that close to each other."

By now, everyone knows the story of how Cormier cried after Cummins beat him in the "shark tank" during Cormier's Olympic wrestling training. White said that Cormier reacted in anger from the moment he was informed about Cummins' comments.

"I called [Cormier], and I said ‘I've got good news and bad news.' I said ‘the good news is, I got you a fight.' I said ‘do you know this kid Cummins? He said ‘yeah.' He's going to take the fight. The bad news is, he said he made you cry in training. He said, ‘he said that?' I said ‘yeah.' And he went off.

"I think he's embarrassed, I think he's upset," White continued. "Is it contrived? Only he knows that. Apparently, in the wrestling world, he broke the man code. He broke the law of wrestling. All the guys who are wrestlers have said that to me. You don't do it."

While incidents such as these help drum up interest in a fight, White insists he's not a fan of such altercations. For one thing, someone could get hurt and cause a fight to get called off. But usually, White knows when to expect bad blood.

"A lot of times, if there is something heated, it usually starts in the back before they come out for the weigh-ins," White said. "That won't happen tomorrow, we can promise you that. Normally it starts in the back and you hear about it, and they warn me before they come out for the weigh-ins. Or if even one thing is said back and forth in interviews or on Twitter or whatever, I'm usually ready for that. I wasn't ready for that. I don't like when that happens. Anything can happen out there."

If this was entirely some elaborate pro wrestling ruse, one would assume Cummins would have played into it as well, rather than just stand there with a bemused look on his face, appearing unsure what to do, after looking so poised all week.

Only Cormier knows whether he was just trying to drum up interest in the fight. But as one of the biggest betting-book favorites in UFC history going into the bout, Cormier best heed his own advice from earlier in the press conference.

"Pat and I can argue all week," Cormier said. "But when we step into the cage, I'm a professional."

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