Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC [Getty Images]
Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier has established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, and as his illustrious career nears its conclusion, he figures to be remembered as one of the most accomplished mixed martial artists of all-time.
The American Kickboxing Academy captain will challenge Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight crown in a champion-versus-champion superfight at UFC 226 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. There, Cormier can become just the second fighter in UFC history — Connor McGregor was the first — to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously. The 39-year-old last appeared at UFC 220 in January, when he stopped Swiss upstart Volkan Oezdemir with punches in the second round of their co-main event.
As Cormier prepares to face Miocic in Sin City, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He excelled at all levels of amateur wrestling.
Cormier was a three-time state wrestling champion at Northside High School in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he finished his prep career with an absurd 101-9 record. He went on to win two national championships at Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas, before transferring to Oklahoma State University, where he was an NCAA All-American, finished with 53 victories in two years and reached the national final as a senior before losing to the great Cael Sanderson. “DC” went on to qualify for two Olympic teams, finishing fourth at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
2. He has withstood unimaginable tragedy.
Cormier, whose father was murdered when “DC” was 7 years-old, also endured the loss of his 3-month-old daughter, Kaedyn. She was killed in a car accident on June 14, 2003 in Texas.
3. The regional MMA scene offered him little resistance.
In just his fourth professional bout, Cormier captured the King of the Cage heavyweight championship on Aug. 13, 2010. He remains one of only nine men who have held the title, along with Bobby Hoffman, Paul Buentello, Manny Rodriguez, Tony Lopez, Tony Johnson, Tyler East, Nick Rossborough and Cody East.
4. He checks almost all of the major MMA boxes.
Cormier has defeated a former EliteXC champion (Antonio Silva), a former International Fight League champion (Roy Nelson), a former Pride Fighting Championships champion (Dan Henderson) and three former UFC champions (Frank Mir, Josh Barnett and Anderson Silva).
5. Only one man has beaten him.
Cormier owns a 20-1 career record as a professional mixed martial artist. Archrival Jon Jones was responsible for his only setback, as he defeated “DC” by unanimous decision at UFC 182 in 2015. The two men faced one another for a second time in July 2017, with Jones walking away with a TKO win after finishing Cormier with a head kick and follow-up punches in the third round. However, Jones later tested positive for steroids, and the result was changed to a no-contest. The two remain bitter enemies.