Poor Daniel Cormier gets no respect. Despite his skills as a wrestler, and despite his passion for the sport of MMA, he’s always treated as second fiddle to more highly lauded fighters. Last night, it was Anderson Silva, but traditionally it’s been the highly talented – and highly controversial – Jon Jones. Although Jones is well-known for KO’ing his opponents early, he and Cormier went the distance during their first and only fight.
Their intense rivalry is well-known, and many were excited to see a Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier rematch at UFC 200. Unfortunately, it fell through.
Just three days before UFC 200, Daniel Cormier found out there would be no match as Jon Jones was flagged for a potential doping violation. You could see the devastation on Cormier’s face when responding to the news that the fight was off. Not only was he likely to miss a historical event and massive pay-day, but Daniel also wouldn’t get the opportunity to prove that he was deserving of the light heavyweight title.
Daniel Cormier had trained for weeks to face Jon Jones. He was driven by a desire to finally prove he could ably defend his title against a man who UFC fans often viewed as better by default. With that chance off the table, his UFC bosses were left scrambling for someone willing to accept a virtually last-minute fight, but also be prepared enough to give a strong showing as for the bout to not be a waste of time.
Somehow, UFC legend Anderson Silva was able to slot in just in time. Disaster averted? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Many wanted and even anticipated an Anderson Silva win based on name recognition alone. Others were more pragmatic about the likely outcome. Silva is 41, and as reported by MMAfighting, he’s still recovering from gall bladder surgery. Somehow, age and a still-healing body didn’t seem to dim Anderson’s shine. As for Cormier, it was the next best option to facing his bitter rival at UFC 200.
Unfortunately for Cormier, the reality of fighting someone who’s a beloved UFC staple is that it automatically made him the villain for some UFC fans. Despite being the defending champion and the fighter who followed all the rules when prepping for UFC 200, Cormier was roundly booed when he won. It’s as if fight fans forgot the bout technically wasn’t even supposed to take place at all.
Daniel Cormier stuck to his game plan. That his opponent was Anderson Silva, rather than Jon Jones meant nothing, as he wanted to prove a point. To do so, Cormier relied on his wrestling skills to execute impressive takedowns and avoid getting knocked out. The method didn’t sit well with some fight fans, who viewed the takedowns as repetitive and even cowardly.
And Daniel Cormier shows the world there was literally no way he was beating Jon Jones tonight. #UFC200— Josh Holmes (@JoshingtonState) July 10, 2016
The criticism being levied at Daniel Cormier is absurd. Fought intelligently and w/ purpose every step of the way. Emotional week. Not easy.— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) July 10, 2016
It was clear that Daniel was sticking to a logical, winning formula that was destined to pay off. Although Silva has bright moments, overall Daniel Cormier was the clear winner. It wasn’t a title defense, but it should have been a moment that saw Cormier allowed to move, even a few inches, out of the shadows of someone else’s name recognition and glory.
Instead, Daniel Cormier was showered with boos. Apparently, despite all of his hard work, Cormier’s journey towards universal acclaim and respect continues. For his part, Daniel Cormier didn’t seem too upset by fan reaction. He tweeted out a thank you message to his supporters, sharing that he’d gone out to celebrate his UFC 200 win.
Where does Daniel Cormier go from here?
Aside from Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier also has a history with the rising top light heavyweight contenders, all hoping to get a shot at Cormier and the now-vacated title. To win the belt during Jones’ previous absence, Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson, the No. 3-ranked contender. It seems like he’s back in a similar situation thanks to the doping scandal. Although there are other heavyweights slowly rising through the ranks, the good news for Daniel is that in the absence of Jon, he should be able to dominate the division.
And there it is, that painful caveat: “In the absence of Jon Jones.” If Jones gets hit with a two-year ban by the UFC, it seems that might represent the length of time before Daniel Cormier is finally granted the opportunity to prove his 17-1 record is no fluke and that UFC fans should respect him in his own right.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]