A doctor who recently looked at Daniel Cormier‘s knee concluded his injuries were four or five years old, which means his entire MMA career has been fought on an unstable foundation.
“I don’t know the medical terms, but stuff builds up around it over time,” Cormier recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “That’s how you know the length of an injury.”
Despite this, has been able to dominate his opponents in the cage, first at heavyweight and now at light heavyweight. An LCL injury wasn’t enough to slow him down in the cage against Dan Henderson at this past month’s UFC 173. The former PRIDE champ was tossed around the cage before Cormier choked him unconscious, which brought his undefeated streak to 15 pro bouts.
Cormier (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) contemplated hitting pause on his career for surgery with his most recent knee trouble, which occurred only weeks prior to his meeting with Henderson, and initially intimated that he would put off a procedure to fight Jon Jones (20-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) when the champ was hammering out a new contract with the UFC and hedging on a rematch with No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC).
Cormier also presented the idea of putting up an interim light heavyweight title as Jones remained in limbo. But now that the champ has re-signed and agreed to fight Gustafsson, who gave him his toughest challenge to date at this past fall’s UFC 165, the former heavyweight looks to make the most of what appears to be a long break ahead.
“I was disappointed, but you have to understand, going into this whole thing … I was under the impression that I was not going to fight for the title,” Cormier said. “So this whole whirlwind of Jon saying he would prefer to fight me and then the UFC issues with Jon, that was all a matter of a few days. Even though I was excited and hopeful, I was still realistic.
“The UFC, when there’s normally something they want to happen, it generally happens. And they wanted this fight so bad between these two guys, and obviously, I would have been waiting had I gotten my opportunity, but it was only a couple days. [This past Friday] was tough, though. I was literally just standing by my phone waiting for a phone call from (UFC President) Dana (White) to see what was going to happen, and I got it right after they made the decision.”
Although it appeared Cormier was set on getting his knee repaired, he now says he will do everything possible to avoid surgery.
“(Prior to Jones vs. Gustafsson being rebooked), I would have asked for [a title shot] a little later because of my knee,” he said. “I would have wanted a month to rehab it a little more before I started a training camp, but now, that’s not an issue. I can do all the rehab I need.
“I’m not a guy who likes to do surgery; that’s not my thing. I’ve had enough of them; I broke my thumb, I broke my arm, I broke my hand. Not a real big surgery guy, because once you do a surgery, you’re committed to being off.
“What I’m going to do is really aggressive rehab and hope that it’s strong enough to avoid going under the knife.”
Cormier said there’s another benefit to staying on the sidelines as Jones and Gustafsson fight once again. Rather than rush into a title shot he might or might not be ready for, he’ll have time to improve his skills.
“At the end of the day, I’m not good enough today to win those fights,” he said. “I’ve got to be better than I was against Henderson to beat Gustafsson or Jones.”