Daniel Cormier found success as a wrestler at the collegiate and Olympic levels during his career.
Victories followed him in MMA, as Cormier won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and earned himself a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title earlier this year.
But none of it compared to Saturday night’s submission win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 187, as it finally brought the belt to his waist.
“If I want to walk out today, I know I can,” he said, during the post-fight show. “I can tell my son I accomplished everything I wanted to. I won the Strikeforce championship and now I’m the UFC champion.
“It’s hard not to cry and to try to keep it together.”
Cormier had just one simple statement inside the Octagon after his win, instructing Jon Jones – the former champion and only man to beat Cormier inside the cage – to get his life back in line and come fight him.
After Jones was stripped of the title and suspended, officials moved ahead with Cormier-Johnson. “DC” was dropped early in the bout vs. “Rumble,” but his cardio and endurance allowed him to weather the storm and dominate the second and third rounds of action.
“Wow, I can’t believe I just got dropped, I never got dropped before,” he said of the exchange. “Not only does this dude punch hard, he’s fast. The first round, our plan was to take him down, then grab his head if he tried to get back up, and make him carry my weight and wear him down. He had to carry my weight the whole time. In the second round, I landed a really good elbow and he looked like he didn’t want to come back out in the third.
“I was thinking I could get the kimura. Anthony was so strong, I couldn’t get it finished. In the third round, he was so tired, and I heard his corner saying ‘Don’t quit’ and when you hear that, you’re very confident.”