Now, imagine he pulled out because he threw his back out sneezing.
Sounds made up, right?
Well, this scenario almost became a reality, according to the UFC’s double champ.
“Sometimes I go into the octagon, and I hear in the build-up, ‘When is this guy going to get old?’” Cormier said during UFC 230’s post-fight press conference. “It could happen overnight. I thought it happened this morning when I sneezed, and I slipped my back out. Seriously. We got some pictures that we may release later in the week. I sneezed, and because I sneezed, my back slipped out. I tried to do my morning run and it wasn’t happening.
“At around 12 or 1 o’clock it was to the point where I was kind of singed over and leaning and Bob Cook said, ‘If you don’t get better, then we’re going to have to make a decision on whether or not you’re going to fight.’ It was real close.”
Cormier (22-1) eventually healed up enough to not only make the walk to the Octagon, but put together a flawless performance en route to a second-round submission over Lewis (21-6) inside Madison Square Garden.
But for those few hours, Cormier’s bizarre injury could have become the biggest story of the night.
“I said, ‘If you let me take a nap, I’ll see if I feel better,’” said Cormier. “So I woke up and went for a walk, and when I went for a walk and got active, my back started to release a little bit. So it was very scary because I had no idea how we were going to explain that one. I was like, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to explain this, when I sneezed and hurt my back.’ That’s getting old. That’s what that is.
“Once I started feeling better, I just really turned up the feeling better,” Cormier continued. “Sometimes you can almost mentally make yourself feel better. But again, this is a three-week training camp, and generally when I’m in fight week, after three weeks my back starts to go bad. So take a few days off to recover, but I usually have five weeks left of training. So it just so happens that it happened on the day of the fight.”
Cormier’s victory not only marked his 15th career stoppage win, but also made him the first fighter in promotional history to defend the two UFC titles.