2018 Fighter of the Year: Daniel Cormier

Three title fights together with two defenses in addition to turning into the first ever simultaneous heavyweight and lightweight heavyweight champion in the historical past of the UFC.

With accomplishments like that, it’s straightforward to know why Daniel Cormier is the 2018 Fighter of the Yr.

Whereas Cormier has undoubtedly had stellar years all through his profession together with his run by way of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix when he wasn’t even in the event when it began, 2018 could also be the yr that he’ll maintain in the highest regard when his profession is over.

In fact, 2018 began with a light-weight heavyweight title protection in January at UFC 220 and that helped him transfer previous an abysmal finish to the earlier yr.

At UFC 214 in July 2017, Cormier suffered a 3rd spherical knockout loss to Jon Jones, costing him the mild heavyweight championship. By all accounts, Cormier had come up brief in his two conferences with Jones and the heated rivalry had come to an finish.

The whole lot shifted a pair of weeks later when a drug check confirmed that Jones had Turinabol — an anabolic steroid — in his system throughout the battle with Cormier. Not lengthy after that, the California State Athletic Fee overturned the victory to a no contest and the UFC returned the mild heavyweight title to Cormier.

It wasn’t a great circumstance by any stretch of the creativeness however the former two-time Olympian wasn’t going handy again a belt, particularly with proof that his final opponent had been caught dishonest.

So Comier cast ahead at the begin of 2018 with a matchup towards heavy-handed striker Volkan Oezdemir, who had earned his title shot with an ideal Three-Zero document in the UFC together with back-to-back knockouts towards Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa. Oezdemir was an enormous underdog going into the struggle however nonetheless there have been questions if Cormier might nonetheless placed on a robust efficiency after such a tumultuous finish to the earlier yr.

He answered that query in emphatic trend as he dominated Oezdemir from begin to end, ultimately placing away the Swiss mild heavyweight by second spherical TKO.

Cormier was again on monitor and with Jones out of motion on suspension, he was prepared to maneuver forward in his profession whereas not regarding himself with the former mild heavyweight champion.

That’s when the UFC got here calling with a singular alternative.

Cormier was provided an opportunity to maneuver to heavyweight to problem Stipe Miocic — who had simply turn out to be the longest reigning champion in that division on the similar night time at UFC 220 — in addition to coach an upcoming season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. In the historical past of the UFC beneath Zuffa in addition to the new house owners at Endeavor, just one fighter had managed to win two totally different divisional titles at the similar time and that was Conor McGregor, who did it the earlier yr with the light-weight and featherweight championships.http://www.mmaweekly.com/http://www.mmaweekly.com/

Even getting the probability to compete for a second world title whereas at present serving as champion in a unique division was extremely uncommon. It had by no means even been tried between the heavyweight and lightweight heavyweight divisions in order that temptation together with a paycheck that occurred to have a pair additional zeroes at the finish was all Cormier wanted to simply accept the problem.

He coached the actuality present towards Miocic however extra importantly was getting ready to return to heavyweight, a division the place he had by no means beforehand misplaced. In truth many believed Cormier might have already been a UFC heavyweight champion if not for dropping right down to 205 kilos to keep away from his teammate and shut pal Cain Velasquez.

Sadly for Velasquez, he has spent a ton of time over the previous few years on the sidelines coping with numerous accidents and he gave his blessing to Cormier to maneuver as much as heavyweight and problem for the title towards Miocic.

The tremendous battle lastly befell at UFC 226 in July and what might have simply been a 5 spherical conflict between two champions truly ended at simply four:33 into the opening spherical.

After a number of exchanges on the ft the place Cormier and Miocic had traded punches, the former Oklahoma State wrestler began to search for photographs on the inside the place he had observed in movie research that the heavyweight champion left his chin open on various events in his profession.

Cormier took full benefit as Miocic was headhunting for his personal knockout and he didn’t see the punch coming from the mild heavyweight champion that finally blasted him on the chin and despatched the Cleveland native crashing right down to the canvas. The brief punch put Miocic down and Cormier shortly swarmed on him till the referee noticed sufficient to step into cease the contest.

With the win, Cormier was topped the first ever simultaneous heavyweight and lightweight heavyweight champion in UFC historical past.

“Never been done,” Cormier advised MMAWeekly earlier his yr about his historic accomplishment. “Only a few guys have tried it in any weight division a lot much less at heavyweight and 205 [pounds]. It’s a actually, actually massive deal.

“I’m glad that I was the one to accomplish it. I’m a lucky guy.”

Following that win, Cormier was coping with a hand damage that was possible going to maintain him out for a number of months and with a possible showdown towards former heavyweight champion and present WWE celebrity Brock Lesnar looming in the distance, he wasn’t in a rush to return again.

Cormier had stated earlier in the yr that he deliberate to retire by age 40 and that date was quickly approaching in March 2019. With time operating out on his profession, Cormier noticed the struggle with Lesnar as an opportunity to defend his heavyweight title and money in with an enormous payday because of his opponent’s super drawing energy.

However the UFC was caught in a nasty place forward of the upcoming UFC 230 card scheduled for Madison Sq. Backyard in New York after making a number of makes an attempt to safe a excessive profile foremost occasion got here up brief.

The occasion was simply round the nook and there was no headliner.

To make issues worse, the co-main occasion between Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz had additionally been scrapped, which left the UFC in dire straits after guarantees have been made to ship in the newest card at the well-known area.http://www.mmaweekly.com/http://www.mmaweekly.com/

As soon as once more, Cormier’s telephone was blowing up with a request from the UFC to step again into the cage — this time on brief discover — to defend his title towards Derrick Lewis.

Cormier wasn’t 100-percent wholesome and he knew accepting the battle can be a troublesome check contemplating he hadn’t actually been coaching whereas Lewis was simply weeks faraway from a 3rd spherical knockout at UFC 229. On the flipside, Cormier knew he can be favored to win the struggle simply based mostly on his talent set matched up towards Lewis however it was nonetheless an inherently harmful struggle as a result of the Houston native packed such a critical punch.

Cormier accepted the problem so he might defend his title, add some extra money to his checking account and examine off one other bucket listing merchandise by headlining a card in Madison Sq. Backyard.

It ended up taking him lower than two rounds to then put a checkmark subsequent to a different bucket record merchandise — profitable in the fundamental occasion at Madison Sq. Backyard.

Cormier wrapped up a rear bare choke at 2:14 into the second spherical handy Lewis a defeat whereas additionally defending his heavyweight title for the first time. It capped off a loopy yr for the ‘double champ’ and cemented Cormier’s standing as the clear minimize option to grow to be the 2018 Fighter of the Yr.

As Cormier approaches 2019 there are quite a bit of unknowns awaiting him proper now.

He has stated quite a few occasions that he nonetheless plans on retiring sooner slightly than later however he does have that potential battle with Lesnar dangling out in entrance of him. Cormier might additionally supply Miocic a rematch after he was the longest reigning champion in UFC heavyweight historical past earlier than he suffered the first spherical knockout.

There’s additionally a potential third battle towards Jon Jones that would occur in 2019 that may give Cormier the probability to exorcize these previous demons.

Regardless of what he chooses, Cormier can look again at 2018 with so much of satisfaction as he did what has by no means been executed earlier than and as soon as once more etched his identify in the historical past books as one of the biggest fighters of all time.

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