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Daniel Cormier’s coach Leandro Vieira says he’s ‘alive’ after getting slammed on head at UFC 226 open workouts

LAS VEGAS — Leandro Vieira knows what’s coming when he gets on stage with Daniel Cormier for open workouts. Cormier is going to pick him up and slam him down to showcase the wrestling that sent him to the Olympics on two occasions.

Things almost went horribly, horribly wrong Wednesday, though. Near the end of the UFC 226 workout in front of fans at MGM Grand, Cormier picked Vieira up high and slammed him right on his head. The longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach told MMA Fighting on Thursday that he’s OK after the accident, but has some soreness in his neck.

“If you see in the video, you can see I put my hand to push a little bit to land,” Vieira said. “But I still landed on my head. It was good. I was expecting the momentum, the hit I knew could be bad. But I felt OK. He was so worried.”

Vieira is not upset with Cormier at all. He said the UFC light heavyweight champion was terrified that he had done real damage right after it happened, but Vieira quickly told him to continue.

“I shot [for a takedown],” Vieira said with a laugh. “Horrible shot. For him to keep going. Then he took me down again and he was like, ‘OK, he’s OK.’”

Vieira said usually Cormier, who fights Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title Saturday, has a slow build to the big takedowns during workouts. But this fight is at heavyweight, which means no weight cut. And Vieira said Cormier has a little extra boost this week.

The issue with this slam, Vieira said, was that the stage was too small.

“Every time I do the open workout, I know I’m gonna get thrown,” he said. “I guess this time because we don’t have a weight cut, he has more energy. Normally, he builds up to the biggest takedown. He started first takedown throwing me like nothing. Then, second, third and fourth. ‘Whoa, I guess every single one is gonna be big.’ And then what normally he does for the finale, he’s like, ‘big one, big one.’ He lets me know. He always does it the same way. I was talking to him this morning. Because the stage was small, he couldn’t drive. It’s the drive, thats when you finish the rotation so I can fall while rolling.”

For a split second, Vieira said he thought about pranking Cormier and “spazzing” on the floor. But he thought better of that. Afterward, the coach said he had a flood of message on his phone asking if he was OK. Then he saw the video and saw how bad it actually was.

“It was scary,” Vieira said. “Watching the video is scary. I’m alive. … I do jiu-jitsu my whole life. I know how to fall. And I’m not scared to fall. So I know every time we do the open workout, I’m gonna get a big takedown.”

Vieira said he has a very good feeling about Cormier against Miocic on Saturday. This is a depleted, energized “DC,” he said. Vieira said he weighs 210 pounds and Cormier still threw him around like a rag doll.

“I think what people forget is he’s a heavyweight that goes down weight,” Vieira said. “Just seeing him be able to not cut weight and be himself. Just look up every other open workout and see the difference now, how he’s throwing me around like I’m nothing. Training with him, it is scary. Because he’s heavier, he’s still fast. I have good feelings, not just because he’s my fighter. But we’re gonna collect belts.”

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