Former US Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier made a successful UFC debut vs. Frank Mir at UFC on FOX 7 Saturday night, beating the former UFC heavyweight champion by 30-27 on all three scorecards. The win would leave most fighters euphoric, but Cormier was underwhelmed with his own performance, which many fans felt was heavy on clinching against the fence, and light on fireworks.
"I've had a very long athletic career, and I've competed at the highest levels of all my sports," Cormier told MMA Junkie after the fight. "I always kind of laughed at Dana when he said there were jitters and nerves that come with this.
"But man, I was nervous. I felt so nervous. It's almost like you want it so bad and you want to do so well, and then you just kind of lay an egg a little bit. I didn't fight the fight I wanted to."
"More than anything, I felt tired, and I've never gotten tired. Usually I'm in a fight, and I feel great. I can go long. But in this fight, for some reason, I was tired, and I think it was my nerves. I was very nervous in the back.
"I felt like my legs were kind of weird. But I went in there and fought, and I fought as well as I could. It wasn't ideal, but if you can feel bad and beat a guy who's a two-time champion, there's got to be some positives in that."
The AKA fighter now has to determine who is next, and in what division.
Cormier had to miss his shot at Olympic gold in 2008 when his kidneys failed in Beijing. It nearly killed him, and Cormier was cutting weight to compete at 211 lbs. Now he is considering a deeper cut, to 205, driven by the desire to fight UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and the desire to avoid fighting teammate and UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez. Cormier feels that he can make the cut safely now.
"I had been cutting weight for a really long time," Cormier recalled recently of the near fatal cut. "I think I started when I was 13, but I was doing it the wrong way. I put (a plastic sweatsuit) on a week before I weighed in, and I would just start sucking out that water. ... Your body can only take so much. I was beating it down every time. It was very scary."
"Physically, I'm different now. At my heaviest, I was 264 pounds. I was consistently weighing in for fights at 250 pounds, and that was after training camps. I was losing seven, eight pounds and being 250 pounds at weigh-ins. Now, I wake up in the morning, and I'm 234 pounds. That's almost a 20-pound difference. Now it seems realistic. I'm lighter now than even when I was wrestling."
So is he ready to drop to 205 now?
"It's really going to be a team decision," said Cormier. "We need to get together with the UFC and the management team and everyone else and figure out what the next step is. Me personally, even if they said you're going to fight Cain Velasquez next, I don't think tonight's performance warranted a title shot."
"I want to do it healthy. I don't want to die."
So what do you think UG? Is Cormier ready for Velasquez? Or Jones? Or what?