UFC 170's Daniel Cormier on title shot: Cummins win 'doesn't move me any closer'
UFC 170 co-headliner and soon-to-be-certified light heavyweight Daniel Cormier describes the past week of his life as like being on a airplane that can’t land.
“It goes up and down, and it’s shaky and rough; you’re reaching for the oxygen mask and strapping in your kids,” Cormier told MMAjunkie. “It’s been nuts.”
Of course, you might feel the same if you spent several months of your life shedding pounds to reach a weight you haven’t registered since your youth for a fight that could win you a title shot, and then seeing that fight nearly canceled. No competition, no belt, and no money.
Cormier’s original opponent, former champion Rashad Evans, was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s pay-per-view event with a serious knee injury that could keep him on the bench for six months.
For 14 hours, Cormier said, he waited on pins and needles to hear whether he would still be able to fight.
Cormier (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), a former heavyweight, is now set to fight former wrestling training partner Patrick Cummins (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the event’s pay-per-view main card, and already, the booking has provided some more turbulence for the bumpy ride to Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center. He’s thankful that his toil didn’t go to waste. But he’s under no illusions about how the changing circumstances of the short-term could affect his long-term goals.
A victory over Evans might have put him on the short list of title contenders at 205 pounds. But now, he today told MMAjunkie Radio, “I think it moves back now because I’m not fighting Rashad.
“If I was fighting Rashad and I was able to win that fight, I’d be very close to fighting for the championship. Whereas now, I think a win over Patrick doesn’t move me any closer.”
A loss to Cummins, meanwhile, would be purely devastating to the momentum he’s built in five years as an Olympic wrestler turned MMA fighter. Cormier blazed through the heavyweight ranks in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, winning the organization’s world heavyweight grand prix as an alternate before crossing over to the UFC and beating high-profile opponents Frank Mir and Roy Nelson.
While Cummins is decorated as an amateur wrestler, where he met Cormier at the Olympic Training Center and had several encounters he recently used as promotional fuel for his short-notice UFC opportunity, he is a 4-0 fighter and unknown to most casual MMA fans.
“If I lose to him â€“ there’s no reason to lose this fight,” Cormier said. “I can’t lose this fight. If I win, all it does is it allows me to get down to 205, show everyone that I can make this weight and compete the way I’m used to competing, and show me that I can compete at the level that I’m used to competing at, and start to chase that belt.”
It might also help Cormier get over the anger he carries about Cummins’ statements to the media in the buildup to the fight. He said he might have pursued a win that was less painful for his former teammate, such as a submission, but might now instead go for a knockout.
Regardless of the outcome, he said, he will have a conversation with Cummins “about why he crossed the line. Why would you do that? I understand you’re trying to make yourself real. I get it. But you knew what I was going through at this time. You understood my situation. You saw me sitting with a sports psychologist every day.
“Those are things that should have stayed in the room, among the people that were there to experience it.”
The details of the encounter are now public, and Cormier is pressing on as the fight nears. He’s currently within striking distance of meeting the 206-pound cutoff he must hit to make Saturday’s bout official. The diet he employed is working in tandem with his body to make him shrink at the right time.
The frustrations he’s encountered in getting to his destination are soon to be in his past.
“[Cummins] will learn, and in his next UFC fight, he may win because he’s a good competitor,” Cormier said. “He may go beat somebody down the line, and he’ll learn on Saturday night that building a fight is different than making a fight personal.”
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