Daniel Cormier understands why combat sports fans have an age-old fascination with knockout artists. And he also believes the fans’ interest power punchers is legit.
“I think people fall in love with power punchers, and I believe it’s just because they’re exciting,” the UFC light heavyweight champion said Thursday on a media call. “They finish the fights in no time.”
Cormier has personally experienced big buzz around big hitters -- Cormier was told frequently that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson’s punching power was going to pose a problem. And Cormier is part of an upcoming card filled with heavy hitters, in both the heavyweight main event between champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou, and in his co-main event title defense against Volkan Oezdemir.
“You’ve got guys like Rumble that was just knocking everyone out,” Cormier said. “You’ve got guys like Volkan, and they just knock everybody out so you do fall in love with them.”
But Cormier said it’s not just about the ability to hit hard. Sure, it helps, but, to use Johnson as an example, Cormier managed to get around his power, take him to the mat, and submit him twice in their two fights. And Cormier believes that Oezdemir, who has 11 knockouts among his 15 career victories, needs to bring an all-around game with him if he’s going to take the 205-pound title.
“It’s not just about punching hard,” Cormier said. “This game is about much more, it’s about what you have up top, mentally, all-around mixed martial arts game, experience, all these things, whether I’m at the commentary booth, the host table or something, or just on these calls, there are levels to this game on the level. When a person isn’t on the level, they get exposed, very quickly. I think that Volkan is a fantastic fighter. I believe that he believes in himself and in his power. But to beat me just being powerful is not enough.”
For his part, Oezdemir said that he wants to see Cormier at his best come a week from Saturday night in Boston.
“It’s good,” Oezdemir said. “I can see that he cares about it. The fight the only thing I want from him is to bring his best game, bring his top game. The fight whoever is going to win is the champion of the world, so what I want to have facing me is the best Daniel Cormier, and the best fighter in the world right now. So that’s the one I want to beat. But the difference is, I’m the new level right now.”
Cormier, of course, is defending the title after the circumstances of July’s UFC 214, in which Jones knocked Cormier out to claim the championship, but then was stripped of the belt after failing a drug test. DC says with a hitter like Oezdemir in front of him, he can’t waste too much mental energy on Jones.
“I don’t really worry too much about anything but the person that is in front of me,” Cormier said. “Volkan Oezdemir I respect enough to focus on him entirely. I respect him enough to focus entirely on him, and him being my obsession. I’m obsessed with this young man right now. I’m obsessed with coming up with a game plan and a fight strategy to go out there and beat him convincingly. I don’t worry about Jones too much, he’s ineligible.”