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UFC 220: Daniel Cormier – Underappreciated Greatness.

During the duration of his eight year professional Mixed Martial Arts career, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier has built a legacy that will go down in history books. With a near perfect professional record, A Strikeforce and UFC Championship to his name, and wins over multiple Mixed Martial Arts legends along the way, Daniel Cormier has achieved more than most professional mixed martial artists could ever dream of.

For many professional fighters, this level of legacy would be one worth retiring with. But for Daniel Cormier, it isn’t quite enough. Because for all he has achieved in the sport, there is one large cloud overshadowing the legacy he has spent the majority of his career building. A shadow that comes in the form of two tainted losses to former Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.

In January of 2015, Cormier lost the first of two grudge matches to Jones. A match-up that was later tainted by news of Jones testing positive for Cocaine Metabolites prior to the fight. In July of 2017, Cormier and Jones faced off in the second installment of their high profiled rivalry at UFC 214. A rematch of their 2015 grudge match. The lead up to the much anticipated rematch was built up as being a gracious comeback and homecoming fight for Jones. Who had recently served a suspension following a hit and run incident in April 2015.

Unfortunately for Cormier, UFC 214 saw him suffer a devastating knockout loss to his arch rival. As Jones ended the fight with a vicious head kick knockout in the third round. In the aftermath of the fight, it was as made public that Jon Jones had been notified by USADA of a potential Anti-Doping violation. Testing positive for Anabolic Steroid, Turinabol. The news of Jones’ failed drug test sent shock waves throughout the Mixed Martial Arts world, and put the immediate future of Daniel Cormier and the UFC Light Heavyweight division in a state of limbo.

As a result of Jones’ failed drug test, the California State Athletic Commission officially ruled the fight a no-contest. And the UFC officially was reinstated Daniel Cormier as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Unfortunately for Cormier, despite having his loss officially overturned and being reinstated as champion, the recent memory of being knocked out in devastating fashion still looms large.

In the eyes of many mixed martial arts fans, the two tainted meetings with Jones have been devastating to the current legacy of Daniel Cormier. Because rather than focus on his achievements and historic track record in the sport, the most recent memory most fans have of Cormier is a devastating loss to his biggest rival, and the heartbreaking post-fight interview that followed it. In the immediate aftermath of UFC 214, rather than showing a high level of appreciation to Daniel Cormier for putting his heart and soul on the line for our entertainment, many MMA fans turned his emotional post-fight interview into an internet meme.

In a recent interview on “Reiter Than You” with Bill Reiter, Cormier stated: “It’s a little bit of an issue. We’re so tied together that it’s almost like the things that I have done get lost within the rivalry. I’ve had 20 fights outside of him, and it’s almost like those things are ignored because of the fights with Jones and the aftermath and the press-conference fight and the drugs and the alcohol and the failed tests. It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation when what we had would have always been looked on as something so crazy because of the level of the rivalry. But now it’s always got that asterisk next to it and he’s kind of put that asterisk next to my career, too.. So it is what it is. But I can’t let that drag me down anymore. I’m so done worrying about these guys and their issues. All I can be is me”.

Looking at the current resume of Daniel Cormier, one would see multiple National Championships in Freestyle Wrestling, an Olympic Games berth in 2004, wins over multiple MMA legends such as Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Frank Mir and Josh Barnett. Successful UFC Title defenses over two of the greatest Light Heavyweight fighters in recent history, Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, and success at an elite level, across two different weight classes (Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight). One could even make an argument that in removing his two tainted meetings with Jon Jones from history, the legacy of Daniel Cormier is one that would see his name included in many “Pound for Pound Best” and “Greatest of All Time” debates.

This weekend, Daniel Cormier faces off against heavy handed Swiss, Volkan Oezdemir for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts. This matchup will not only provide Cormier with an opportunity to step out of the shadow of his tainted losses to Jones, but will prepare the UFC Light Heavyweight division for life after Jon Jones, again. Stepping out of the shadow of his two meetings with Jon Jones will be no easy task. But an impressive victory over Oezdemir this weekend would be a significantly large step in the right direction.

The legacy of Daniel Cormier is one that spells Greatness. Not one that should be ignored. This weekend, he will look to not only add to his legacy, but remind Mixed Martial Arts fans of his greatness.

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