Cormier, a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler showcased his wrestling skills in Real Pro Wrestling before making his transition to MMA and ultimately becoming the UFC light heavyweight champion.
Cormier talked about the time with Real Pro Wrestling in an article by MMA Fighting.
“We thought it was the start of something huge,” says Daniel Cormier, a future U.S. Olympic wrestling captain who emerged as a breakout star of the series. “We thought this was something massive. We’d never seen anything like this before. We’d never been on TV for eight weeks in a row. It was everywhere, man. When I tell you that guys would go across the country — they had tryouts for it where guys would actually leave home, go to these tryouts because they wanted to be involved. It was crazy. We all knew: this was an opportunity to make serious money.”
Cormier recalled going into his match against his opponent Tommy Rowlands in the event final.
“He was one of the best college kids coming out,” says Cormier. “He was the guy who was supposed to be one of the guys that could actually compete against me, which probably put him in a weird space. Because now he’s not only having to wrestle the No. 1 guy in the country, but because people have built him up so much as my rival… I want to smash him even more.”
“I told Tommy: ‘You’ll never get a takedown. You won’t ever score on me,’” Cormier recalls. “We were the bad guys, sure. But once we start wrestling, now it’s real. Because I know this is a kid who I’m going to have to compete against for the Olympic team for the next three years. This isn’t for TV. This kid is good. This kid is going to be here every step of the way. Tommy Rowlands… he’s the guy every step of the way as I try to make my second Olympic team. So now it’s different. Now you need to know: as good as you are, you’re not going to beat me.”