New UFC heavyweight, Daniel Cormier, spoke with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night to talk about his recent debut victory at UFC on FOX 7 last Saturday and what the fight says for his future in the organization.
Daniel Cormier was among the most highly-anticipated fighters to come to the UFC following the close of Strikeforce earlier this year. Having won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in May 2012 and making the US Olympic Wrestling team twice, Cormier brought the high-level athleticism and background that had many fans excited to see him fight in the Octagon. Cormier made his entrance into the UFC last Saturday by defeating former UFC heavyweight champion. The two-time Olympian was able to control the larger Mir with his persistent wrestling and devastating striking from the clinch, easily earning himself the unanimous decision victory. Despite a dominant performance over a big-name opponent, many fans were underwhelmed by Cormier’s performance.
Cormier himself shared the disappointment, saying that, “right after the fight, initially I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think I fought my best fight. I still don’t think I fought my best fight.”
Even still, Cormier’s debut for the biggest organization in MMA went as well as a fighter can hope.
“You know,” he said, “I got the win. Also, I truly do believe I beat Frank Mir at his best. You know, he was in better shape physically- obviously you could see that on him. And mentally, I think, he was better. He was confident in the fact that he trained hard, so he came into the fight knowing that he wasn’t going to gas. I think I may have put too much stock in that he does gas and he tends to fold. So when he didn’t, I just continued to do what I was doing before, you know, just really rough him up and beat him up and waiting for that moment whenever he kind of said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and got out of the fight, but he didn’t do that… I trained for him doing some tricky things, you know, like things that would actually make me uncomfortable. But he allowed me to dictate the pace of the fight. You know what I mean? It was very weird, you know, because after a point you got to realize that you’re not doing so well, and something needs to change; and that change didn’t come. I don’t know if that’s necessarily because of the way I fought him, or he just was content with not getting finished in the fight.”
Instead, Frank Mir held on and survived a three-round onslaught of grinding, clinch-work and dirt-boxing from the smaller Cormier. When asked about this approach to the fight- especially given the fact that Mir has shown weakness in the clinch with both Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin in the past- Cormier credits his performance less to planning and more to training.
“You know, with me,” he explained, “it’s all about how I train. I was in there really thinking I was gonna fight him in the stand-up; I wasn’t gonna give him a chance. I don’t want to give guys a chance in their best area… The clinch wasn’t necessarily what I intended to do, but I trained a lot with a guy named Damian Grabowski… and he’s a big guy like Frank, southpaw, and a lot of the times we would clinch because he kept clinching me, and I would just beat him up in the clinch. You know, a lot of bodywork, a lot of knees. You know, you’re going to fight how you train. You watch a lot of my fights, for Jeff Monson I really did train a lot of just stand-up, no takedowns at all, and that’s how I fought. Bigfoot Silva was all stand-up, no takedowns… Whatever I do in training, I’m going to do in the fight. Even though it may not have been my intention to fight that much in the clinch, you know what, man? When I look back on it, I’m glad I did. Because, there was improvement there. There was a lot of improvement I made in that position.”
Though he utilized his wrestling to keep Mir pinned against the cage, the fight never really went to the ground. This was not because Cormier couldn’t land a takedown, but, as he explained, rather because he chose not to.
“I couldn’t really take him down,” said Cormier, “because, I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not as comfortable with the jiu jitsu as I need to be. So I need to do more jiu jitsu, more jiu jitsu so I don’t give away my biggest advantage in these fights, which is my wrestling. You know, I limited myself in this fight by not being able to wrestle because I was so weary of his jiu jitsu.”
The fight moved Cormier up one spot on the UFC’s ranking’s of heavyweight contenders to number 2, only behind former champion Junior Dos Santos. For someone in this position, Daniel admitted that this fight was not his best.
“You know, this is a fight that I needed to get out of my system,” said Cormier. “I am not afraid to sit there and fight and bang, obviously. Frank, he’s a great fighter. I really do respect that he came in there in such good shape… You know, this is not the performance I wanted- it will get better. You know, it just takes a lot of anxiety, a lot of nerves that I’ve never really felt before, and just all the build-up. You know, this is really the first fight that there’s been a ton of build-up for… I’d get up at 8 o’clock in the morning and start doing radio interviews on one day, and going around driving to interviews on the next day. It was just constant, constant media… And there’s a lot of pressure, you know, a lot of pressure to compete. I mean, you saw guys come into the UFC and not fight up to par, but they lose… There’s a lot of guys that come into the UFC with a lot of hype, and they lay an egg, but they literally lay an egg and they don’t win the fight. You know, so there’s got to be some positive in that. Then when you think about their opponents- think about it- Lombard came in and fought Tim Boetsch. Akiyama came in and fought Alan Belcher. I came in and fought Frank Mir. You know, so we got to kind of keep things in perspective a little bit.”
Perspective indeed, as Frank Mir holds victories over some of the sport’s top heavyweight fighters including Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Cro Cop, and Roy Nelson.
After this debut win, the future is wide open for Cormier. He has discussed moving down in weight, partly to make a run for the light heavyweight title and partly to avoid fighting his longtime teammate and current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Be sure to read the rest of Daniel Cormier’s interview as they are posted in the coming days. He talks about what is next for him in the UFC, his confidence that he will fight Jon Jones, and his training at the American Kickboxing Academy.Tags: BJPenn.Com Radio, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Dana White, daniel cormier, frank mir, jon jones, mma, MMA NEWS, SHANE CARWIN, Strikeforce, ufc, ufc news, UFC on FOX, UFC on FOX 7