Exclusive: Daniel Cormier Talks About GSP/Nick Diaz/Johny Hendricks & His Close Bond with Cain Velasquez
To read part one of our exclusive interview with Daniel Cormier click here:
Lately it seems that the UFC is handing out title shots based on popularity instead of what fighters are accomplishing inside the cage. Case in point, Cormier’s fellow Oklahoma State University wrestling alum, Johny Hendricks. “Bigg Rigg” seemingly earned the next shot at Georges. St. Pierre’s welterweight title after he knocked out Martin Kampmann in the first round of their UFC 154 bout, but the UFC has matched GSP up with Nick Diaz, a man coming off of a loss and a one year suspension.
“I think the UFC has done a good job of giving the fans what they want,” admitted Cormier. “Sometimes the fans will speak up on a fight, they will bombard the guys with the Diaz fight or the Chael Sonnen situation. Then right after the fight is announced you get almost the same amount of people talking bad about the fight. It’s what you ask for initially and you know Dana White and those guys try and give the fans what they want. I would much rather there be some consistency and see the most deserving guy gets the title fight, but what is deserving based on? Is deserving based on ticket sales? If so then Sonnen and Diaz deserve their title fights. It’s based on what’s important in the grand scheme of things.”
“I truly believe that Hendricks has had the toughest road of anyone. I mean he’s fought tougher schedules than some of the champions. He beat Josh Koshcheck, Jon Fitch, Kampmann and if you go back he beat Mike Pierce and a couple of other guys. His resume speaks for itself and obviously I have a connection to Johny through Oklahoma State, but I think that shot is rightfully his. Maybe if he puts on another good performance against Jake Ellenberger he’ll get what’s his. There should be a little bit more of a structure to giving out title shots, but that’s how it is in combat sports a lot of times, even boxing.”
Although it’s a question he’s been asked and he has answered a million times, the fact remains that Cormier could be facing a tough decision. If Cain Velasquez is successful in regaining the UFC Heavyweight title from Junior Dos Santos at UFC 155, Cormier will have to figure out what his next move is. For Cormier this goes way beyond just not wanting to fight a teammate. The obvious choice will be for Cormier to try and get down to 205lbs., but it won’t be easy. If he diets correctly and only has to cut down from 225lbs or so, he has said it’s a real possibility. If and when he chooses to go that route the talk will shift to an immediate fight between him and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. For now Cormier will focus on Staring and the strong bond he and Velasquez have formed.
“We are a close team and spend a lot of time together in and out of the gym,” Cormier stated. “There’s actually a deeper reason for me not wanting to fight Cain. He may tell you something different and that won’t affect me either way. It wasn’t my gym that he came into, I came into his gym. When I moved into AKA, Cain was starting to break in to the top 10 in the world. He was about to fight Ben Rothwell which actually put him high in the rankings and I came in as a former Olympian.”
“Every day you have guys come into gyms wanting to be MMA fighters, but very rarely do you get a guy with a pedigree like mine. A guy who’s a wrestler and has competed at the highest level. If you look at the odds on guys who have a pedigree like I had they tend to have pretty decent success in this sport. He would have been within his rights to tell them right away that he’s not sure I want to be training with this dude because there’s going to come a point in time where we may have to fight. It’s just like when Jon Jones was trying to train at Jackson’s and Rashad Evans expressed his concerns.”
“Cain never did that, right away he took me under his wing and started talking about the things he did in wrestling, let’s wrestle and get better together. I’m going to help with your striking and I’m going to help you with your Jiu-Jitsu. When he could just beat my ass he didn’t always beat me up, he took the time to help me. He helped me in the kind way that you wouldn’t expect many guys to do, especially in this sport where there is so much money and so much at stake. There is a much deeper meaning than we are just teammates and we train together every day. It’s that acceptance that he gave me that makes me not ever want to step across the cage from him.”