On one of the biggest nights of his life, Daniel Cormier decided that his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame was finally time to come clean about one of the most debated moments during his career.
At UFC 210, as he attempted to defend his light heavyweight title for the second time, Cormier struggled through a difficult weight cut that ended with him over the 205-pound limit on his initial attempt. When he returned to the scale moments later, Cormier shed his clothes and stood behind a towel before the announcement was made that he hit the mark at 205 pounds.
On Thursday, Cormier finally confessed that he may have had a little assistance in making weight for his fight against Anthony Johnson.
“Guys, I want to tell you something because I feel like right now is the time to be completely transparent,” Cormier said on stage. “I think I may have grabbed the towel in Buffalo.”
Cormier then detailed the difficulty he faced that day trying to make the light heavyweight limit and how it appeared he was about to give up, which would have resulted in the UFC title being stripped.
That’s when one of Cormier’s friends and coaches reminded him of an old school wrestling trick that could potentially give him just enough leverage to balance the scales in his favor.
“I walked to the back after missing weight by 1.2 pounds,” Cormier explained. “It was 1.2. I tried to give it up, guys. Trust me, I tried to give it up. I had a pound to lose. They even went and called my wife to try and get me back in the tub. I said no way, this s*** is over. She told me ‘Daniel, just take a hot bath.’ I go, it’s not that simple.
“I walk back, [my coach] he goes ‘DC, do you remember the old wrestling trick?’ I said, can you stand behind me? Because there’s two — you can put your hands behind you and your person can lift you up. He said, ‘No, it’s the towel one.’”
The trick involved Cormier putting his hands on the towel as he was standing on the scale, which would alleviate just enough weight so he would appear to make the 205-pound limit.
Looking back now, Cormier admits that fate smiled on him that day because the New York Athletic Commission overseeing the weigh-ins in Buffalo failed to notice he touched the towel before reading out his official weight.
“Do you understand the level of ridiculousness that has to happen in order for that to work?” Cormier said. “I looked down and I could not believe my luck. I am a lucky guy. Even when I would lose, the belt would just somehow come back to me. I was like, I’m a lucky guy.
“So I look down and the commissioner’s on the floor looking at the scale. There’s a second lady and I look down — she’s right next to him, so I grab the towel and I’m like, ‘S*** we’re home free.’ [Marc] Ratner, I know I would never get you like that, but in New York, first time, you know what it is. It is what it is.”
Cormier went onto win the fight by second-round submission.
“‘Rumble,’ I’m sorry my guy,” Cormier said to his former opponent.
Outside of addressing “towel-gate,” Cormier also spent time addressing many of his coaches and teammates over the years who helped him eventually become a two-division champion in the UFC.
One person in particular who Cormier shouted out was ex-UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who was one of his main training partners while also becoming one of his best friends through the years.
Velasquez is currently being held without bail on attempted murder charges in California, but Cormier has continued to show support throughout the legal process and he sent a message of support to his friend once again on Thursday.
“Every single moment that I had, Cain Velasquez was to my right and to my left,” Cormier said. “He never let me do it alone.
“This is my message to Cain — I know you’re going through it, my brother, I swear every time you look to your right, I’ll be there. You look to your left, I’ll be there.”
Emotions eventually got the better of Cormier when he paid tribute to his parents, who both passed away before they could see him inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, but he mostly gave his speech with a giant smile on his face as he celebrated his historic career in combat sports.
“Guys, this has been an absolute dream of mine,” Cormier said. “I’m a guy that’s always loved sports, and I understand the significance of the Hall of Fame. I understand the honor of an athlete’s career being memorialized by those three words. Therefore, I want you to know this means everything to me.”