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Daniel Cormier says he and Stipe Miocic take ‘back seat’ to fighters on TUF 27

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BURBANK, Calif. — Don’t expect Daniel Cormier to rip a door off its hinges, a la Quinton Jackson, or Stipe Miocic to grab Cormier by the neck, like Cody Garbrandt did to T.J. Dillashaw, on The Ultimate Fighter 27.

Cormier, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, said Tuesday at a media lunch that the plan all along for this season was to keep the focus on the fighters, all of whom are undefeated prospects. So, no, don’t expect any over-the-top hijinks between Cormier and Miocic, the UFC heavyweight champ. TUF 27, which features lightweights and featherweights, premieres Wednesday night on FS1.

“None of that stuff, no,” Cormier said. “We didn’t do any crazy sh*t like that.”

If they did, Cormier said, he believes it would come off as phony. There will be a time to promote the UFC 226 superfight, which will take place July 7 in Las Vegas. The Ultimate Fighter was not it.

“I think the entertainment value has to come from these guys fighting,” Cormier said. “Stipe and I are gonna sell pay-per-views. It’s a big fight. People tune in for big fights. If it’s not genuine, people can see through that, too. If I start putting on that ‘I hate Stipe Miocic’ after going to Cleveland and doing a show with him and being respectful, it’s like ‘What?’ It makes no sense. And that might turn people off from actually watching the fight, like this is too fake, I can’t deal with it.”

Cormier said he didn’t even really pay too close attention to what Miocic was doing from a training perspective when they were in Las Vegas together filming the show earlier this year for six weeks. “DC” said he was not looking for any kind of advantages to exploit when the two end up throwing down in three months. It was more about coaching the fighters there.

“I really didn’t spend that much time with him in that sense, because I was spending time with our kids,” Cormier said. “I wanted to take a back seat to the fighters on the show and when it’s time for me to prepare for Stipe, I’ll prepare for Stipe. But I want to take a back seat to these guys. These kids have sacrificed everything. They left him to try and do this. It’s not an easy thing.”

When it came to the fights, though, Cormier wanted to win. And he was not lost on the fact that there was a psychological edge to be gained by his team winning bouts on the show against Miocic’s squad.

“It was easy, because I think we look at it as competition,” Cormier said. “I want to win every fight to just show him I’m gonna continue to build wins over you and ultimately it’s gonna culminate in me beating you on July 7. It’s just a competition from the moment we walked into that house, to picking teams, to when we left out that house. Every step has been a competition and I want to beat him at any turn.”

Cormier, 39, said he was very active in evaluating and picking fighters, but he left a good deal of the actual training to his own coaches, like American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez. He was out there on the mat with his team. Cormier believes Miocic did similar. While Cormier is currently a youth coach and plans to be an MMA coach when his career concludes, he said Miocic is admittedly not a coach.

“I think he’s smart,” Cormier said. “He’s not a coach, though. He doesn’t make any bones about it — he’s not a coach. I don’t know how he looks at talent and all that stuff. That’s not his job. He might have let his coaching staff do all his team picks and everything. He’ll openly tell you, ‘I’m not a coach.’ He does it as best he can.”

With the show now in the rear-view, other than watching it on TV, Cormier and Miocic will begin their preparation soon for their huge fight for the heavyweight belt at UFC 226. There will be plenty of training and promotion for that bout in the coming weeks and months. Just don’t expect to see much of it on TUF 27.

“This is one of those seasons when we truly are going to be the supporting cast,” Cormier said. “I don’t necessarily want to be the focus of this season. It needs to be about the guys.”