Daniel Cormier has had a tumultuous few weeks.
Leading up to UFC 200, the current light heavyweight champion was noticeably upset at a pre-fight press conference when the fans we booing him and cheering for Jon Jones. Then Jones was pulled from UFC 200 for a failed drug test and Cormier was booked in a short notice fight against the middleweight GOAT, Anderson Silva. At 200, Cormier went out and employed a wrestling heavy game plan to win a unanimous decision over Silva; a far cry from the threat Cormier had leveled that Silva was going to "get it" and a decision that caused the fans to rain down boos throughout the fight.
It was not unlike Jones' own short notice performance against Ovince Saint Preux: tentative, lackluster, and clearly dominant but below expectations. In the aftermath, Cormier spoke a lot about his performance - the difficulties in changing opponents so suddenly, the emotional toll that Jones' removal took on him - but last week, he gave another reason for his tepid performance against Silva; in an interview with Jim Rome, Cormier admitted to being star struck when he fought the MMA legend.
"All day Friday I'm telling myself I'm just going to smash him, I don't care that its Anderson Silva, I'm just going to smash this dude. And when I looked across from him and he's crouching, he's in his Spider position. In that moment, I did kind of have that one moment where I went wow, that's Anderson Silva."
Cormier's strategy was, in all likelihood, a prudent decision. Despite his advancing age, Silva is still imminently dangerous on the feet and even managed to hurt Cormier with a kick to the liver late in the third round. A prolonged striking battle certainly would have given Silva his best opportunity to win the fight and throw the light heavyweight division into chaos, something Cormier understood well and had no intention of allowing.
"It was me fighting in the way I needed to and what am I supposed to do standing in front of Anderson Silva? It would be catastrophic if I lost that fight to Anderson, still was the champion, and then Anderson went down a weight class and challenged for the belt, like where I was supposed to go from there."
"I took the fight because I made a commitment, I made a commitment to myself, to my family, my friends, the fans, and also to the UFC that I would be there to compete, so I went out there and I did it. I went out there and I fought Anderson Silva, and you know what? I got a big W and that's massive for my career going forward."
He may have gotten the win in the cage, but he also lost something. The goodwill he had engendered by the way he handled the Jones situation and his willingness to fight a new opponent on only a day's notice had fans cheering Cormier at the weigh-ins. Just when it appeared that the fans were finally ready to embrace him as champion, Cormier turned in a performance that left the fans thoroughly dissatisfied (somewhat hypocritically since the fans by and large seemed to relish in Brock Lesnar's even more wrestling heavy game plan that same night). In the interview, Cormier speculated as to why the fans would be unhappy with his performance.
"Maybe they didn't like the wrestling, maybe they just thought they didn't like seeing Anderson get beat, but my job is to go out there and win. I've had my last three fights, against Jones was fight of the night, my fight against Rumble Johnson was performance of the night, and my fight against Alexander Gustafsson was fight of the night and number 2 fight of the year last year, so I've been involved in some barn burners."
Now Cormier is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career (in name value if not in current relevance) and looks poised to put together a serious light heavyweight title reign. The first year of Cormier's title reign has had the specter of Jon Jones hanging over it; the man who never lost the championship in the cage and who had soundly defeated Cormier. But now with Jones facing a multi-year suspension for a banned substance, perhaps Cormier can start to move past that and carve out his own place in history, independent of Jones. He can start with the winner of the Anthony Johnson vs Glover Teixeira fight which will take place at UFC 202.
By the time that fight comes around, maybe the fans will be back in his corner.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Shocking. Brock Lesnar was flagged for a potential doping violation by USADA.
Miss you when you're gone. Mark Hunt is threatening to leave the UFC is he doesn't receive half of Lesnar's purse from UFC 200.
MVP. Bellator 158 happened and MVP did something amazing and terrifying.
No contest. The WMMA have overturned Fedor Emelianenko's win over Fabio Maldonado.
4 billion. T.J. Dillashaw slams the UFC for the way they treat their fighters.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Lightweight. Patrick Wyman of Bleacher Report discusses the depth and greatness of the UFC lightweight division.
Holly Holm vs. Marion Reneau. It's another fight week y'all.
Shevchenko vs. Kaufmann
MVP going viral.
Gracie breakdown and Andy Silver vs Champ Hugeballs.
Cro Cop trying to catch em all.
Well I wanted half but have changed my mind cheaters shouldn't get shit I want all of it cheaters don't deserve shit #cheatersdeservenada— mark richard hunt (@markhunt1974) July 16, 2016
As someone that is putting his brain (and face ) on the line, I couldn't be prouder of he UFCs teaming with USADA. https://t.co/kODLhL5Hca— The Spartan (@EliasTheodorou) July 16, 2016
HE POPPED FOR GIMMICK INFRINGEMENT. IM STILL THE ORIGINAL, STILL THE BEST. https://t.co/sBPBHNWXBH— Chael Sonnen (@ChaelSonnen) July 16, 2016
Me if I was 'clean' and on the lesnar diet pic.twitter.com/t1RSlmFjbd— Joanne Calderwood (@DRkneevil) July 16, 2016
I took him for a ride levei ele para dar uma ralé. pic.twitter.com/M89FDwiIsL— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) July 16, 2016
7 years old pic.twitter.com/gDZKkJSkvY— Sage Northcutt (@sagenorthcutt) July 17, 2016
Remember when Tito claimed to have a cracked skull? Nah. This is the worst MMA injury I've ever seen. God speed Cyborg.
Speed recovery Melhoras guerreiro. #Repost @criscyborg with @repostapp ・・・ Fight fans Please say a prayer for me Ex husband Cyborg Santos. Many of you watched him fight on Spike TV this weekend when he suffered this injury while fighting in London. Cyborg is still in the hospital in the UK, and they are not sure when he will be able to fly again. He has not had surgery yet and their is worry the brain can continue to swell causing more damage. @bellatormma is suppose to be responsible for all medical procedures needed to fix this injury from the fight, however Cyborg is going to be unable to work for sometime and we will be putting together a #gofundme for Fight fans wishing To sponsor him And his Family at this dificulta time. Thank you God for your protecion, The dr said this very Easily could have been life threatening. Please show your support for the fighters and share! Fãs de luta façam uma prece para o meu ex marido Cyborg Santos ,muitos de vocês assistiram ontem a luta dele na Spike TV,onde ele sofreu este ferimento enquanto lutava em Londres ,ele ainda está no hospital e não tem certeza quando ele vai poder voar de volta pra casa, @bellatormma é responsável por todo procedimentos médicos que ele precisar para resolver este problema porém ele não vai poder trabalhar por um tempo e nós vamos arrecadar ajuda pra ele através do #gofundme para os fãs patrocinarem ele e sua família nesta hora difícil, Obrigada Deus por sua proteção!! O medico disse que ele corre risco de vida,mostrem seu apoio aos lutadores e compartilhem isto!!! #GodToGlory #figtherlife #teamcyborg #evangelistacyborgsantos
Benson Henderson (23-6-0) vs. Patricio Freire (25-3-0); Bellator 160, August 26.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2015: Michael Bisping defeated Thales Leites by split decision in the main event of UFC Fight Night 72.
Over the weekend, there was a mild Twitter debate running around about whether USADA was a good thing for the UFC. I was kind of surprised by how many people were anti-USADA and so that is the poll today. Do y'all think USADA deprives us of too many good fights or are you happier with the sport being some number of degrees less dirty? Is it a necessary evil or are these just growing pains in the process of the sport? Feel free to discuss.
Other than that, we're back at it again for another fight week. Hope your weekends were exactly what you wanted and i hope today goes just as well. See you tomorrow M.Rmy.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.
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