Bonded In Brotherhood: How Deron Winn and Daniel Cormier’s relationship grows through wrestling

Deron Winn, Daniel Cormier
Image via @iamthebay/@deron_winn on Instagram

When Deron Winn makes his UFC debut at UFC Greenville next weekend, Daniel Cormier won’t be in his corner, but there’s a good reason for that.

“We argue all the time, even when we are coaching high school wrestling, we’ll be arguing throughout the meet.”

That’s what brothers do, they fight and they argue, and sometimes they can’t be next to each other. Being part of a fantastic team at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California has perks for Deron Winn who gets to train and be around the likes of Cain Velasquez, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and of course, Daniel Cormier, but for Winn it’s so much more than that.

In an interview with BJPenn.com, Deron Winn spoke about his special relationship with Daniel Cormier, what it’s like having champions around him, and how wrestling formed a bond between he and ‘DC’ that transcends the cage.

As he prepares for now his third opponent in the lead-up to this fight, Deron Winn will face Eric Spicely at UFC Greenville and with his much-anticipated debut right around the corner, Winn is able to pull many things he’s learned from his friend, brother, and mentor Daniel Cormier.

“I don’t think people understand how close we really are,” he said. “We coach high school together and not only do we coach high school together, we coach the kids program and that takes an equal amount of attention if not more, because our kids are very competitive. They travel the country and they’re one of the best kids clubs in the country. D.C. is like my brother, I talk to him about every single thing, every matter of my life, he taught me a lot of things and it’s not like he’s like “D.C.” to me, he’s just like my boy. Sometimes he calls me so much, I tell him to stop calling me. We annoy each other, we fight like brothers, everybody who is around us they say it and love it, one day I hope we can be on TV together.

“D.C. is my bro, man. He’s taught me so much about life and one of the biggest things I think he’s taught me about MMA is just being tough. I don’t know when there’s a day that I’ll be able to beat him, but I always have to test myself and he always drags me into deep waters. My best case scenario is getting up after he takes me down. We always say someone’s going to have knock me out because they’re not going to drag me through deep waters.”

Having teammates like Cormier, Velasquez, and Nurmagomedov would be a great benefit for any fighter, but the special bond that Daniel Cormier and Deron Winn share does mean that the UFC‘s current heavyweight champion won’t be in Winn’s corner for his UFC debut.

“The only reason I don’t have D.C. in my corner is because it’s kind of a road we don’t want to have go down. We argue a lot. The last thing I want is to be seen arguing with this dude in the middle of a fight, and we would, that’s the kind of s–t we do. We’ll be in the corner of a wrestling match, on a big stage, and we’ll be arguing with each other. I don’t have him in my corner but he’s still going to be there.”

Having mentors like Daniel Cormier and his other high-profiled teammates is great for Deron Winn and his evolving career but he also focuses on giving back to the youth, just like his mentors did for him.

“I say this all the time, two things, out of any athlete it doesn’t matter how good you are in any sport because one day that sport will come to an end,” he said. “So, the friendships, what you’ve given, and stuff like that along the journey, you find what you give a lot to people, other people have no problem giving back to you. I don’t care if you’re the best f**king athlete of all-time, if you’re a shi**y person and you’re just a selfish guy, I hate that, I can’t stand that. I would never want to be that guy.

“When it comes to wrestling, without wrestling I say this and I’ve said it in interviews before and I’m not even exaggerating when I say this, I’d probably be locked up or a junkie or something like that. Wrestling has absolutely, 100% got me to where I’m at today and it’s because of how wrestling is that it allowed me to become obsessed and passionate about it. There were definitely years during my college years and after college where I was ready to turn it over but for some reason, wrestling just kept calling me back. When people hear that I didn’t grow up with a Dad and start to feel sorry for me, I tell them don’t feel sorry for me.

“In wrestling, I’ve been surrounded by so many great role models and when life is trying to tell me to go left, great role models always told me to go right, and there was enough dudes who told me to go right, that I finally just started f**king going right, and it was tough, it was a harder life, but now it’s starting to pay off. All I want to do is try and effect some of these kids. D.C. always says one kid, if he can effect one kid, then his job is done. You’re going to want to try and help everyone but it’s impossible so I try to stick to the things I do know like wrestling, and I try to guide these kids in the right way. I try to turn them into not just wrestlers, but the best men and women they can be. So, that’s why it’s so important for me to give back to wrestling.”

When it comes time to make his UFC debut in Greenville, South Carolina, Deron Winn will have a mentor in his corner and a brother looking on, and while they’re always arguing, Winn plans to use the lessons learned inside and outside the cage to lead him into a successful debut, and that’s something any big brother would be proud to see.

They may fight each other, they may wrestle each other, but the brotherhood Deron Winn and Daniel Cormier have formed only makes them better fighters, coaches, people, and role models in their community.

It’ll be a debut that many have been waiting for when Winn steps into the UFC’s Octagon for the first time, and as he’s learned from his team for many years, he’s not preparing for Eric Spicely, he’s preparing to be the best version of Deron Winn possible.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/17/2019.