At first glance, Daniel Cormier’s bout with Derrick Lewis on Saturday night went as nearly everyone expected it would. So was it really that big of a deal? Yes. Yes it was.
Since the UFC 230 headliner was announced a few weeks back, Cormier was dubbed as a heavy favorite. Most people expected that Lewis wouldn’t have any answers for the wrestling and top game of Cormier, and that proved to be the case. Cormier repeatedly took the feared slugger down and proceeded to submit him with a rear-naked-choke in round two. So, in the grand scheme of things, Saturday’s win shouldn’t rank that high in Cormier’s career right? No.
It’s important to remember that Cormier was dealing with a hand injury during this camp, a camp, don’t forget, which was abbreviated. In addition, following Saturday’s win, the champ-champ reported he nearly had to drop out of the bout (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Sometimes I go into the octagon, and I hear in the build-up, ‘When is this guy going to get old?’” Cormier said. “It could happen overnight. I thought it happened this morning when I sneezed, and I slipped my back out. Seriously. We got some pictures that we may release later in the week. I sneezed, and because I sneezed, my back slipped out. I tried to do my morning run and it wasn’t happening.
“At around 12 or 1 o’clock it was to the point where I was kind of singed over and leaning and Bob Cook said, ‘If you don’t get better, then we’re going to have to make a decision on whether or not you’re going to fight.’ It was real close.”
“I said, ‘If you let me take a nap, I’ll see if I feel better,’” said Cormier. “So I woke up and went for a walk, and when I went for a walk and got active, my back started to release a little bit. So it was very scary because I had no idea how we were going to explain that one. I was like, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to explain this, when I sneezed and hurt my back.’ That’s getting old. That’s what that is.
Now sure, throwing out your back on account of sneezing, is solid joke material, as Cormier alluded to. But, this information certainly puts a different spin on his performance Saturday. Clearly “DC” wasn’t 100% for the fight, but you couldn’t tell…at all.
Then, of course, last night’s victory was special on the historic front. Cormier became the first fighter in UFC history to defend titles in two divisions. He’s done so while still holding belts at heavyweight and light-heavyweight. So, while Saturday’s win wasn’t the biggest win of Cormier’s career, it’s up there nonetheless.