UFC light heavyweight champion and New Orleans Saints fan Daniel Cormier was a guest on the Black and Blue Report. Cormier talks about his upcoming rematch with Jon Jones at UFC 197 and the Saints. Highlights below:
We are so excited about your next title defense here. I did catch some of the highlights Daniel of the pre-fight press conference before UFC 197. Let me just start by saying you're a much better dresser than your opponent.
"You try to carry yourself in the way of a professional. When I watch one of my favorite guys, a little guy you guys may know, his name is Drew Brees. He's always dressed to the 9's. He doesn't go to a press conference in a t-shirt with jeans, he's got his nice suit on, always carries himself in a professional manner and I try to take the same approach as most professional athletes."
It's a good way to go and I think in some ways you class up the MMA world a little bit too Daniel when you do that.
"Thank you so much. You know I think a lot of guys are doing it now. If you watch that presser, most of the guys were dressed pretty nice. Jon's one of the only ones that actually went up there in a t-shirt. I don't know, maybe that's his image. Wearing a suit is nice, man. It always feels good to dress yourself up."
Tell me what life has been like as the light heavyweight champion here now for some time.
"It's been good. You know there's a lot more opportunities with the belt but there's a lot of responsibility too. You know you got to really be aware of everything because there's responsibility of obviously caring for motion in a favorable light. Then a lot of responsibility to promote, a lot of responsibility to go out and really explain to people what the UFC is and a lot of times change perception because a lot of times people don't really take the time to really understand what the UFC is. They talk about it's fighting in a cage but in reality it's much more than that. We're high level athletes that come from various backgrounds and not just guys that fight because there's nothing else to do."
When you talk about the profile now of UFC, and I think you just touched on a little bit, the profile seems to get more and more cranked up. There've been some high profile moments here of late and obviously on the ladies side we've had that story of this most recent fight involving Conor McGregor. What's your take on the sport right now and are we seeing positive strides? Again, positive is a relative word here because it is still a pretty vicious atmosphere. What would your temperature be on the sport right now?
"I think that you're starting to see is just what you see in all sports. You know how there's parodies across the board. You know these long reigning champions. Before you had a guy like Anderson Silva that had the belt for seven years. The last guy to really carry a title that long was Joel before what happened to him. A lot of these reigning champions they don't last as long because there's parody across the board and I don't think when you think about this sport it's more mainstream now because of people that have really captured the imagination, the Rhonda Rousey, the Conor McGregor. People that capture the imagination of not only fight fans but the general sports fan. Then you start to see bigger and bigger events. The last fight Conner McGregor had sold almost one and half million Paperviews which was a record for the UFC, which was UFC 100. That was six years ago, seven years ago and that card was stacked to the 9's with Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre. Now a guy named Conor McGregor is doing it officially every time he fights."
We're going to expect a big Paperview for your fight on April 23. Daniel, is it better now that you've had a chance to defend your titles successfully going into this fight? Does that reset your focus a little bit?
"There were a number of things that helped me reset the focus going into this rematch because obviously you guys know I lost the first one against Joel. With what happened not only getting the title but kind of going back and getting my mojo back. When I fought him the first time, I was undefeated, I had beat everyone and was very confident. I lost the fight. There was an opportunity for him and I to fight again, I was supposed to fight in June in New Orleans and if I would've won I'm pretty sure I would have won another title shot but it might have been too fast. Now there's been some time, I had a chance to go and get my mojo back, I fought the two best guys and what they had to offer. I wouldn't have fought Ryan Bader and then gotten a title shot. I fought Anthony Johnson and beat out Alexander Gustafsson. I dealt with adversity at this weight class, had to dig deep. Just getting my mojo back lends itself to more success in the rematch."
No disrespect here Daniel, you're 36 now I think and training can't be as easy at 36 as it was say 10 years ago.
"Let me tell you something that is the biggest understatement you have made in a long time or anyone because every morning I get up and there is something aching even more than before. I'm 36, my birthday is March 20 so I'll be 37 in a matter of a few days. You know what, it's all I know. It's what I've done my entire life since I was 16 years old I've been competing at a high level so I know how to train. I know what I have to do when I'm in the gym. I just work as hard as I possibly can so if I have to work myself and take a day, take an afternoon to rest and recover. That's what I'll do. I make sure that I'm getting the work in to prepare myself to have the best chance at success."
Speaking of miles and the tires, I couldn't help but think of you not too long ago we had another round of the state wrestling championships in the state of Louisiana, by the way I think you did fairly well out of Lafayette back in the day, do you still think about those days?
"All the time, man. You know I was talking to one of my friends yesterday, who's the high school wrestling coach down in Louisiana and he was telling me how successful the state tournament has become. When I used to wrestle in the state tournament, there was one main division and then they had division two so it was only two divisions. It hadn't been broken down to like it is in football now and essentially it was our families in the arena, there was hardly anyone in there. Now I heard that the last few state championships down in New Orleans they were getting 15-20,000 total attendance. Now even up north the attendance is pretty good. Yeah, it's a big deal man. I enjoy watching it, I follow the results. I've got a lot of friends now that coach which is good. My buddy was telling me yesterday that he has about 60 kids on his wrestling team, another has 80 kids on their team, another team has 75 kids, so I'm like man, there's a lot of wrestling going down in Lafayette. That's really good."
When we talk about this fight with Jon Jones coming up, what should fans be aware of? What are the challenges that you'll face even as a guy going in there with a belt around him?
"There's a number of things. One obviously is his height. His height was what was causing me a lot of issues the first time. He's got great range for a tall guy and actually he's very tough in championship rounds all around. The guy's defended the belt eight times against eight different guys. I'm his first rematch. I know the feeling in there so that again lends itself to confidence. There are a number of reasons that I'm excited about this fight and confident about this fight but he does present his issues."