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Despite boos, Daniel Cormier's plan was to avoid 'catastrophic' loss

To call the UFC 200 fight week volatile, unfair, or difficult for UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier would be putting it mildly. Cormier was at first scheduled to fight Jon Jones, only to have Anderson Silva fill in on roughly 24 hours notice as a substitute after going through a period of uncertainty about whether he'd fight at all would be more than most could handle.

Cormier managed to persevere, taking a unanimous decision victory on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. To do it, however, he had to resort to his wrestling prowess, something many of the fans in attendance didn't appreciate, as evidenced by their noticeable chorus of boos.

"I can't really pay attention to that anymore," Cormier said of the jeering. "The first time it happened, I kinda got angry. I was upset. I tried to explain it. It didn't make any sense, but now I can't really try and dictate people's emotions. I can only take care of what I can take care of.

"People don't understand the situation that I've been in over the course of this last week," he noted. "For me to go out there and get a victory over someone like Anderson Silva, that's enough for me."

Now that the week is over, the champion reflected on the moment at UFC 200's post-fight press conference. In trying to articulate his mindset, all Cormier could do was explain the wild swings of fortune, emotions and opportunities. He also was effusive with praise for his last-minute opponent, former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Perhaps just as much, he recognized his no-win predicament and why he couldn't risk doing more than what he did.

"A lot of relief," he said of his feeling post fight. "It was a very difficult week. It was very high when I got here seeing my face on the side of the T-Mobile Arena to the ultimate low of Wednesday when Jon was out of the fight, to starting to hear that Anderson may fight me and then not really knowing until Friday morning, but still trying to make weight. My body wasn't really reacting like I wanted it to anymore with the stress of everything. It was a long week, but right now I feel relieved because Anderson did this on two days notice.

"The guy actually did it on two days and he went out there and fought as hard as he could, so all respect to him, but reality is, it would've been catastrophic if I had lost tonight because I would still be the champion, but lost to a guy that probably would have went down to middleweight and challenge for the belt. I did what I needed to do."

And to the critics or fans who rained down boos every time he took Silva to canvas and stayed in half guard? Cormier claimed he couldn't worry about that. In fact, he had to do what he knows and that's wrestling when it matters.

"I would say to you, you go stand in front of Anderson Silva for 15 minutes if you have the ability to take him down," Cormier said. "I stood in there a little. At times we traded some shots and a couple of times I almost went back to the way I fought against [Alexander] Gustafsson where he hit me and I want to hit him back. I've got to be smarter than that.

"The circumstances under which this fight came together, it really was a tough situation for me to go into and actually, how do I win? How do I win? You don't just knock Anderson Silva out in one minute, two minutes. He's too good for that. He's the greatest fighter we've ever seen. He's got a lot of experience, so even when I felt like I was starting to advance positions and I was landing some good elbows or punches, he always did the next thing to slow me down. It's a credit to him. It's not me. I fought to the best of my ability. He did a good job of staying in there, but I gotta wrestle. That's what I do. I wrestle."

In terms of what's next for him or the division, no one really knows. Much of this hinges on how Jon Jones's proceedings with USADA and the Nevada Athletic Commission take place. Cormier is happy to wait for Jones under certain conditions, but not all. He's got his own career to look after and a title to defend.

Cormier has options and he'll take on the most deserving of challenges as they emerge. But what he won't do is worry about how he'll be perceived or whether he's meeting the fans's entertainment quotient.

"I'm not going to wait for him for two years. I'm 37," Cormier said of Jones. "I think I'll probably fight the winner of Rumble and Glover Teixeira. It just seems like it makes the most sense. Those guys are all well deserving. They've won fights in a row and both of them deserve title shots. I think we need to see what happens with Jon. Let him get through that and then see what's going to happen next. With all that's going on, the focus can't be fighting right now. It has to be figuring this out."

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