He’s a two-time United States
Olympic wrestling team member. He’s the head wrestling coach at one
of the best MMA gyms in the world… AKA (American Kickboxing Academy).
He was a coach on The Ultimate Fighter, brought in by Josh Koscheck.
His training partners consist of some of the best in the world including
Cain Velasquez, Josh Kosckeck and Jon Fitch, to name a few. He was brought
in as a late replacement in the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP and stunned
the MMA world by knocking out Antonio ‘Bigfoot” Silva. He boasts an
undefeated professional MMA record of 9-0-0. He is one of the rising
stars in Mixed Martial Arts and part of what we call the new breed….
Welcome to the world of Daniel Cormier.
MMA SPORTS: Congratulations on your big win against
Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, what were your thoughts on the fight?
Daniel: The fight went better than I ever could have expected. I expected
a war and I trained for a war, so the finish was a great bonus.
MMA SPORTS: Knockout win in the first round,
did you think it would end that early?
Daniel: I didn't expect the fight to end the way it did. Bigfoot is
one of the best heavyweights in the world, and to expect anything but
a war would have been a huge mistake.
MMA SPORTS: You get Josh Barnett in the STRIKEFORCE
GP finals, your thoughts on that fight?
Daniel: I think it’s going to be a really good hard tough fight. It’s
an honor to fight someone who has accomplished as much as Josh has.
With that said, I am going to this fight to win the STRIKEFORCE grand
MMA SPORTS: So if I were to lay a bet down on
that fight, who should I be betting on and how will the fight end?
Daniel: You should be betting on me, and I’m not sure how the fight
is going to end. I guess it’s going to end with me getting my hand raised.
I am excited about the fight and I am going to win this fight.
MMA SPORTS: What cans fans expect from your next
Daniel: The fans can expect me to come out and be better than I was
in my last fight. I owe it to myself, my coaches and the fans to keep
on improving. I am going to be better every time I step into the cage.
MMA SPORTS: You were a replacement for Alistair
Overeem in the STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight GP, what were your thoughts when
you got the call?
Daniel: When I got the call to replace Overeem, I asked my coaches what
they thought, and when they said lets do it, I jumped all over it. It
was a great opportunity and I couldn't have passed it up. You don't
get many chances; you have to take them when they come.
MMA SPORTS: You’re undefeated 9-0, if you get
past Josh Barnett, what’s next?
Daniel: If I am able to beat Josh, I can sit back, relax and cross that
goal off of my calendar. I set goals for my career and to be the best
heavyweight in STRIKEFORCE was one of them. I can cross that one off
and move to the next one.
MMA SPORTS: You seem to have tougher competition
thrown at you in every fight, you always pass the test and look better
every time, what do you owe that to?
Daniel: I owe my progression to my coaches. They spend a lot of time
with me. They set my game plan and make sure I am trained to execute
it. I owe it all to Javier Mendez, Bob Cook and Dave Camarillo.
MMA SPORTS: You’ve traveled to Australia twice
and defeated two of the top heavyweights, what was that like?
Daniel: Australia was a great experience for me. I was able to fight
some tough guys and get some experience. Kelly and everyone at XMMA
were great to me. Beautiful country.
MMA SPORTS: You train with some of the best in
the business at AKA, including Cain Velasquez, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck,
what’s that like?
Daniel: It’s been great to be able to train with those guys man. They
have been great to me. Without my teammates I would not be where I am
today. My teammates are my family and they are brothers to me.
MMA SPORTS: For most MMA fighters, the UFC is
the goal, any intentions of heading to the UFC?
Daniel: Right now my sole focus is on winning the STRIKEFORCE GP. If
that buys me a ticket to the UFC, that’s great. I believe anyone who
fights has hopes of one day fighting in the octagon. It’s the show.
MMA SPORTS: You’re not the biggest heavyweight,
is there any consideration to move down to Light Heavyweight?
Daniel: I am not thinking of making the move right now. I am focused
on winning this tourney. If the right opportunity would come for great
money, I would cut the weight.
MMA SPORTS: You’ve competed in the Olympics for
wrestling, what was it like competing on that level?
Daniel: Wrestling in the Olympics is and will always be my greatest
accomplishment. I loved representing my country.
MMA SPORTS: For anyone who has followed your
career knows you have a great wrestling background, what was the hardest
part of transitioning from wrestling to MMA?
Daniel: The hardest part was the stand up. It’s not normal to get punched
at. And getting used to that is really hard. And humbling yourself is
tough too. Going from the top of your sport to a rookie, is an eye opening
MMA SPORTS: Do you think wrestling is the best
base for Mixed Martial Arts?
Daniel: Wrestling is hands down the best base for MMA (smiles).
MMA SPORTS: Was pro-wrestling, joining something
like WWE ever an option for you?
Daniel: I considered pro-wrestling, even went to a couple events as
a guest of the Wi after 2004 games. I wanted to keep wrestling though
and Kurt angle even told me pro-wrestling will be here. Chase that Olympic
gold as long as you’re able to.
MMA SPORTS: You help a lot of fighters prepare
for fights, how much of a role do you have at AKA?
Daniel: I am the head wrestling coach at our gym, so my role is based
on the specific fight. Like Cain and Kos’ last fights, I played a big
role, but when (king) Mo fought Roger (Gracie), my role was smaller.
It depends on the fight honestly.
MMA SPORTS: Koscheck used you for The Ultimate
Fighter series, what was that experience like?
Daniel: The ultimate fighter was a great experience. I am forever grateful
for the opportunity. We were treated great. And it was good seeing how
hard these kids work towards their goals. It was great.
MMA SPORTS: In your career, most times your fights
have been really close together, sometimes a week later, two weeks later,
do you think that has helped your career?
Daniel: It helped me early in my career because it allowed me to get
some experience. Now that I am fighting tougher fights, I am not sure
that’s even possible anymore (laughs).
MMA SPORTS: You’ve defeated some top names in
the sport, what has been your favorite fight?
Daniel: My favorite fight has been the ‘Bigfoot’ fight because it was
my biggest step up in competition. It was a huge test for me and I passed
it. I trained so hard for it and it was my biggest opportunity and I
passed it. Means a lot to me to beat the man that beat Fedor.
MMA SPORTS: If you could fight any celebrity
in an MMA fight, who would it be?
Daniel: I would like to kick Spencer Pratt’s ass. And honestly I would
beat the shit out of Scott from Kardashians. They are both douche bags.
MMA SPORTS: In the locker room, while you are
waiting for your fight, what are you thinking of and what are you feeling?
Daniel: In the locker room I'm pretty calm. Thinking that all the hard
work is about to pay off. I'm excited and the competitive nerves are
going crazy. It's a feeling like no other. It's just the finish line
is in sight after 8 hard weeks of training.
MMA SPORTS: What is the first thing that goes
through your head, when you are standing across from your opponent and
the cage door shuts?
Daniel: The thoughts are different for every fight. Against ‘Bigfoot’
I thought dang, he's big I'm in the wrong weight division (laughs),
but against Monson I thought ok this is a great chance to showcase my
skill and show my development.
MMA SPORTS: What is one rule you would like to
see implemented in MMA in the U.S.?
Daniel: The rules are fine for me. I haven't fought under any different
rules, so I don't know the difference. One thing I don't want to see
is foot stomps and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent.
MMA SPORTS: One thing fans don’t know about you?
Daniel: One thing fans may not know about me is that I am a huge fan
of James Patterson, and I read every one of his books. I am a big time
reader. I read a ton the day of my fights, so that I keep my nerves
in check until I get to the arena.
MMA SPORTS: What does the future hold for Daniel
Daniel: The future for me is being the best fighter in the world. I
want to be talked about in the same conversation as the best fighters
in the world. Will that happen? Maybe or it may not, but I am going
to work every day to give myself the best chance to make that happen.
MMA SPORTS: Thank you for the interview, any
Daniel: I want to thank my management team at Zinkin Entertainment,
my gym The American Kickboxing Academy, and all my sponsors. I want
to thank you guys for the interview, everyone at Zuffa, STRIKEFORCE
and Showtime for the opportunities. And lastly I want to thank the fans
for the continued support. Thanks guys.