UFC: Daniel Cormier draws on tragedy to motivate himself ahead of Jones fight
Family bereavements and Olympic disaster mean Cormier is hardened to task of toppling Jones
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 26/07/14 4:40pm
Daniel Cormier insists that personal tragedies such as “losing my daughter, losing my dad and the disappointment of the Olympic Games” fuel his determination to overcome pound-for-pound great Jon Jones.
A tumultuous lifetime of dealing with crises has been the backbone for an elite career initially in wrestling and now in MMA which could peak as Cormier replaces the injured Alexander Gustafsson to challenge for Jones’ light-heavyweight championship.
Cormier told Sky Sports: “To go through the things that I’ve gone through in life without breaking – there’s nothing he can do to me in the cage that’s going to break me.
“I’ve had to deal with much more than competition. That’s how I look at everything in life now."
As a child his father was murdered before fatherhood was cruelly taken from Cormier when he lost his baby daughter. Later, having finished fourth in the 2004 Olympics he captained the US wrestling team in 2008 only to withdraw with kidney failure.
“What’s the worst that can happen in the cage? I lose a fight? I’ve lost so much more - losing my daughter, losing my dad and the disappointment of the Olympic Games. I’m not scared of losing,” he continued.
“That mentality gives me an advantage over everybody. Not many people can deal with that. A lot of people who deal with what I dealt with go into a shell and they’re never the same and that almost happened to me.”
To go through the things that I’ve gone through in life without breaking – there’s nothing he can do to me in the cage that’s going to break me.
His Olympic dream meant Cormier’s MMA career began late but now, aged 35, having amassed a perfect 15-0 record he is presented with a chance to settle a rivalry that began before either had earned their UFC stripes.
Cormier recalled: “We met in 2010 when Cain Velasquez fought Brock Lesnar.
“Jon came up to me and looked down at me and said ‘you look like a wrestler’. I said that I’m probably the best wrestler he knows.
“The way that he said it was very condescending. Jon said maybe one day I could get a takedown against him. I thought that this dude doesn’t even know who I am!
“I knew Jon, he was on his way to becoming champion, he was so good. I didn’t expect him to know who I was.
“You’ve got to watch what you say because you can motivate people even more.
“That was really disrespectful so I stuck his picture on the wall and told myself that ‘one day I’ll beat that kid up’.
That opportunity came after an injury to Gustafsson ended the Swede’s hopes of rematching Jones at UFC 178.
“Wednesday morning, I was in my home sleeping and I woke up to a text message from [UFC chairman and CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta,” Cormier explained.
“Anytime you get a text from Lorenzo you know it’s big!
“He asked me to call when I woke up. When I did he asked about my injuries. I said I was fine, so he asked if I wanted to be champion. I said of course.
“Then he offered me Jon Jones on 27 September.”