Fresh Off MMA Fighter Of The Year ESPY, Champion Daniel Cormier Gunning For Second Heavyweight Title Defense At UFC 241

by 10 months ago

Presented by UFC 241 on ESPN+

To be honest, it’s kind of outrageous that Daniel “DC” Cormier isn’t a household name in America. He is the heavyweight champion of the world after all.

In reality, UFC heavyweight champions have never quite broken through into the mainstream, but if anyone can do it, it’s gonna be Cormier. And if there’s any time for “DC” to cut through the noise and reach the mass market, it’s on August 17, when he headlines the UFC 241 Pay Per View main card on ESPN+.

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For those of us who follow mixed martial arts, Cormier has been a pretty big deal since he won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2012. A decorated wrestler and two-time Olympian, “DC” pummeled his way through a field of far bigger and far more experienced MMA fighters. Standing only 5’11” he body-slammed violent giants with force and severity, instantly endearing himself to the combat sports crowd on account of his everyman appeal.

Casual fans, of course, know him from a pair of high-selling light heavyweight fights he lost to Jon Jones. However, looking at those fights in the rearview, it’s clear that “DC” was always meant to compete at heavyweight. It’s exactly where Cormier’s speed, athleticism, and power all meet to optimize performance in the Octagon.

It’s a big reason why his upcoming UFC 241 main event against Stipe Miocic can not be missed. Not to mention, this may very well be Cormier’s moment to propel himself beyond the combat sports bubble and into an entirely different stratosphere.

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Claiming his second UFC title last July when he knocked Miocic out at UFC 226, Cormier immediately told UFC commentator Joe Rogan “I never knew what I could become, but tonight I got the answer. I’m a two-division champion, baby … today I finally accomplished everything.” But in the 13 months that have passed since that post-fight interview, Cormier has accomplished a great deal more.

Beginning with the first defense of his heavyweight title over Derrick Lewis, Cormier not only headlined a fight card at Madison Square Garden, but he also became the first UFC fighter to defend titles in multiple weight classes, something that Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre failed to do.

Next up, he was named the third most dominant athlete in sports by ESPN the Magazine, further boosting his profile by taking home the inaugural ESPY (the sports equivalent of an Oscar) for Best MMA Fighter, topping dual champions Henry Cejudo and Amanda Nunes, along with interim champ Israel Adesanya.

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Congrats, DC 🙌🙌🙌 #Repost @DC_MMA ・・・ Tonight I won the ESPY for the best mma fighter, this is insane. I never would have thought I would ever get nominated for something like this. I have a great support system and they’re the reason things like this happen. Salina, you’re the glue that keeps this family rolling. To @crazybobcook and @dewaynezinkin you guys have been the best managers I could ever ask for. @akajav the best Head Coach in the business, @rosendo_sanchez , @slikbxr ,@camacho100, @leandrovbteam there is no staff in mma that compares. To my partners each and every one of you have built me from the ground up, special shout out to @officialcainvelasquez and @lukerockhold my brothers who have been there every step of the way. All my competitors, I appreciate every one of you. The Jones rivalry has stood out above em all and have helped me to gain popularity that many people can’t imagine. It takes a village, I’m just a kid from the Northside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Amazing. Thank you all. I love you DC

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Following the win, Cormier inked a deal to host his own digital show Detail, available exclusively on ESPN+. Joining sports legends like Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant on the streaming platform, Cormier is finally earning some much-deserved respect from his major sports peers. After all, how many of them would even last a round with the champ?

Riding a bit of a popularity boost, Cormier is now poised to fight in front of the biggest crowd of his career. Having already beaten Anderson Silva on the million-selling UFC 200 PPV, which was headlined by Brock Lesnar, and having fought Jones on a pair of pay per view cards that sold north of 800,000 buys, Cormier and the UFC are expecting huge numbers from UFC 241, largely in part due to the return of Nate Diaz. Sure, Cormier and Miocic’s first fight did decent numbers, as did his pair of title fights against Anthony Johnson, but the presence of such an iconic figure like Diaz on a card puts the UFC 241 main card in a totally different ballpark, and no one stands to benefit more than “DC.”

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Then again, there’s also a ton of pressure on Cormier going into this fight.

He’s already beaten Miocic once, and with the possibility of a trilogy with Jones still out there, “DC” needs to duplicate the very same lighting in a bottle he captured at UFC 226, when he connected with a perfect short right hook, landing the knockdown shot on Miocic’s jaw as the two broke off from the clinch. It’s a big ask from a guy who’s always done everything right, save dropping his hands for a split second, just as Jon Jones landed a perfect shin to his head.

But this is kind of exactly where Cormier thrives, in the clutch, big-time moments. It’s how “DC” has become a two-division UFC champion, despite only starting mixed martial arts at 30 years old, and now he’s just hoping to raise his profile with another huge win.

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And who knows, maybe after the UFC 241 main event on August 17 people around the country will be able to identify the world heavyweight champion with ease. Leave it up to Daniel Cormier to convince the masses.

UFC 241 Pay Per View Main Card on ESPN+ (7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST)*

Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic (Main Event)
Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz (Co-Main Event)
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa
Gabriel Benitez vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch

UFC 241 Prelims*
Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen
Drakkar Klose vs. Christos Giagos
Manny Bermudez vs. Casey Kenney
Devonte Smith vs. John Makdessi
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Brandon Davis
Sabina Mazo vs. Shana Dobson
Hannah Cifers vs. Jodie Esquibel

*Bout Order Subject to Change

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