2018 has been quite the year for Daniel Cormier. He became a double champion when he defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 to become the first man to hold both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles simultaneously, and he also has a title defense of both titles this year, with a dominant victory over Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 to retain his light heavyweight title and, most recently, a win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden in November to retain the heavyweight title. It was a year for Daniel Cormier to exercise his demons, where he finally was able to feel what it’s like to be considered the best in the world at what he does, which is exactly what ESPN has done today by awarding Cormier the honor of Fighter of the Year.
“The universe is crazy,” Cormier told ESPN. “Just as you start to accept, ‘Maybe I’m the guy that was second’ … The reality is my career was good enough to reach unbelievable heights … But I was never the guy that stood at the very top. I didn’t get that Olympic champion moment. I was at a point where, ‘This has to be good enough for me.”
Not only has Daniel Cormier earned the Fighter of the Year award from ESPN, but he was also the only MMA fighter to make it to ESPN’s 20 Dominant Athletes list of 2018. Additionally, he made it to #1 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings for the first time in his career, where he remains today. Entering 2018, Cormier didn’t have such expectations. He only wanted to continue competing at an elite level:
“When I came into this year, I was like, ‘I’m just going to live this thing for what it is: a chance to compete and see where the chips lie.’”
And compete Daniel Cormier did, with three victories and three stoppages in what he claims will be his final full year of activity in the sport. There is one man that he was unable to compete against this year, however, and that is the one man who owns a victory over him: Jon “Bones” Jones. It took Cormier a while to accept the outcomes of his past encounters with Jones, but in time, he has made his peace with his feud with Jones and believes that it is all a part of his story.
“Everything wasn’t pointing to, ‘I have to get back to the Jones fight and make that right,'” Cormier said.
“I took on too much pressure in that rivalry, trying to put him in place. The reality is, he put himself in place with the indiscretions and bad things he did. Even after Jones was reinstated, it wasn’t about him. It was my story. It’s crazy how everything changes so fast.”
Do you believe Daniel Cormier is the right choice for ESPN’s Fighter of the Year?