Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier expressed his dissatisfaction this morning with the UFC’s promotional poster of his upcoming fight with challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Cormier shared his criticism via Instagram.
A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on
According to MMA Weekly, Cormier’s criticism is rooted in the fact that he is the reigning, defending, headlining champion. Whereas this is certainly a factor, there might be more at play. Per Fox Sports, Rumble’s positioning on the poster isn’t uncommon. The UFC drafts similar promos quite often in an attempt to build up the challengers. Cormier cited the UFC on Fox 17 poster, where challenger Donald Cerrone overshadowed the Brazilian champion Rafael Dos Anjos. To reference an even bigger name, former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre was marketed in a similar fashion on the UFC 158 poster, standing before a very menacing Nick Diaz, who’s been an irregular contender in as many as three divisions.
— UFC Mall (@UFCMall) June 3, 2016
Looking at Cormier’s headline bout history, this is the first time this template has been used to sell his event. All of Cormier’s previous posters are more balanced in the depictions of the champion and challenger, even featuring other main card fighters.
This isn’t the first time Cormier has clashed with the UFC’s marketing and promotional team, though. At a media conference in 2014 for UFC 178: Jones vs Cormier, the two headliners got into a brawl while squaring off for press photos. Upon coming together on stage, Jones pressed his forehead to Cormier’s to display his stature and size advantage. Cormier proceeded to put his hands around Jones’ throat, who responded by pushing Cormier off the stage and into the crowd. The two scuffled on the ground before being pulled apart by spectators and UFC officials.
Jones and Cormier clashed again, this time verbally, just days after their physical encounter. The two exchanged words after an interview on ESPN, believing they were off the air. Jones went as far as making death threats to Cormier, who was impressed as well as irritated, by Jones’ manipulation of the media.
Cormier claimed the vacant title in 2015 after an impressive third round submission win over Rumble. Rumble had put Cormier on the canvas in the first round with a devastating overhand right, but Cormier weathered the assault and finished Rumble with a rear-naked choke. The title was formerly held by light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones, who was stripped of the belt following a hit and run felony charge in the same year.
The lineup of light heavyweight contenders remains dangerous and unpredictable, despite Jones’ departure. Regardless of the talent found in the division, Cormier has been dominant as champion, defeating the likes of both Alexander Gustafsson, and the legendary Anderson Silva in a non-title fight. Cormier, an undefeated heavyweight, is also an Olympic wrestler. Pride has been a big motivator for Cormier throughout his career and seems to manifest itself regularly under the media’s spotlight- whenever Cormier is doubted, he becomes verbal with his criticisms.
An example of this is found in Cormier’s Instagram post, where he takes a stab at “Cowboy” Cerrone, explaining that “the last time the challenger looked so big on the poster, RDA beat cowboy in one round.” Cerrone had made a comment about Cormier’s performance against Anderson Silva in 2016 at UFC 200 and has been a Twitter target for the champion ever since. Cormier’s pride allows his grudges to fester – a trait he’s displayed before ever becoming a UFC champion.
Cormier’s portrayal on the poster is ultimately meaningless, as he holds the belt, and is recognized as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. Rumble is a monster in the light heavyweight division but remains a challenger. Criticisms aside, Daniel Cormier will have his chance to prove the doubters wrong on April 8, at UFC 210.
[Featured Image by Steve Marcus/Getty Images]