For a time, Daniel Cormier seemed to receive an inexplicable amount of hate from fight fans. Lately, however, that’s begun to change. The UFC light heavyweight champ seems to be increasingly popular with the fans — even among those who used to boo him.
Speaking on a recent media tour promoting The Ultimate Fighter 27, on which he’s coaching opposite Stipe Miocic, Cormier discussed his new and improved relationship with the fans.
“I don’t know what I did,” Cormier said of his improved reputation among the fans (transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting). “I didn’t really do anything. I did the exact same thing. They decide when they like you and when they don’t.”
Daniel Cormier’s fan perception was probably it’s worst at the height of his rivalry with troubled former champ Jon Jones. At that time, he was happy to play the heel.
“When I went out there that first time and they booed me with Jon [Jones], I just played the bad guy,” he said. “I will say all the stuff you hate me saying. You hate that I make fun of [Jon Jones] for his addictions? I will say every one of those addictions and I’ll list them all out. Before it was like, I don’t think they’ll boo me for it. Okay, you’ll boo me for it? You don’t like that? I’d kind of feel out what people liked and didn’t like. And the things I got the most hate, on Twitter, I would start to say it in public. If you want me to be your bad guy, I’ll be your bad guy. I just kind of gauge it.”
Lately, however, he’s been getting more cheers and less boos. While Cormier is obviously glad to be liked by fans, he says the most important thing is generating a reaction.
“People just decide what they want to do,” Cormier said. “Going into the Jones fight, it was all boos. And then going into Boston [to fight Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 2230], it was all cheers. Then when I went to that press conference in Brooklyn, cheers. They put me on the camera and for the first time, people yelled positive stuff. Usually they just boo me. I didn’t care. I just get used to it.”
“You’re never going to tell people how to feel,” Cormier said. “I used to try to do that. If you told me there’s something you don’t like, I’m going to harp on that thing. I want a reaction. Whether it is positive or negative, I just want you to not be indifferent. As long as you care, that’s good.”
Will you be cheering for Daniel Cormier when he fights Stipe Miocic at UFC 226?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/30/2018.