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Zuhosky’s Take #13: Daniel Cormier’s HOF Induction Deserved

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On the night of May 7, UFC 274 was held at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the home venue of the NBA‘s Phoenix Suns and the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers.

Although the night was highlighted by two championship fights to close the show on pay-per-view (and was slightly marred by the controversial weight miss of Charles Oliveira at the previous day’s weigh-in), one UFC legend got the news that he had been waiting nearly two full years to receive.

Daniel Cormier To Be Inducted Into UFC Hall of Fame June 30

On June 30, the MMA promotion will hold its 2022 UFC Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and Daniel Cormier, who retired from the sport in 2020 following the UFC 252 main event at the UFC Apex versus Stipe Miocic in a trilogy fight, will be one of the inductees in this year’s class.

In announcing Cormier’s induction to the hall of fame, the UFC confirmed that he’d be a member of its modern wing, the ninth such inductee to that wing since the hall was first established 19 years ago.

Joining Daniel Cormier in the UFC Hall of Fame’s modern wing in this year’s class will be Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was announced as part of this year’s list of inductees back in March.

UFC Hall of Fame Parameters For Modern-Wing Inductees

Since the UFC Hall of Fame was established on Nov. 21, 2003, seven previous modern wing inductees have been enshrined, with Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov joining the wing this year.

In establishing the modern wing in 2015, the UFC set forth the following parameters for ex-fighters to be considered for induction into the hall of fame through the modern wing:

  • Modern wing fighters will have had to turn pro on or later than Nov. 17, 2000 at UFC 28: High Stakes. This date is significant in that it was the night of the first UFC event to be held using the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
  • In order to be considered for induction into the UFC Hall of Fame through its modern wing, a fighter must be at least 35 years of age or older at the time of his or her induction into the hall of fame.
  • Lastly, in order for a UFC fighter to be considered for induction into the UFC Hall of Fame through its modern wing, he or she must be retired from competition for a minimum of one calendar year.

Dana White on Daniel Cormier’s Induction

UFC President Dana White commented on Daniel Cormier’s induction to the UFC Hall of Fame’s 2022 class on May 7.

“Daniel Cormier is one of the most badass competitors of all time,” White began. “DC faced the greatest athletes in the world on every level of wrestling and MMA. He is also the ultimate professional. As an active fighter, he always took time for the media, which led him to become one of the best TV analysts in all of sports. DC is one of the greatest ambassadors that UFC has ever had, and it’s going to be an honor to induct him into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer.

Daniel Cormier as a Fighter: The Wrestling Days

Upon a stint on the Oklahoma State University wrestling team, he turned to freestyle wrestling, competing in the 2003 World Wrestling Championships in New York City at Madison Square Garden going 3-1 in that tournament and placing fifth.

From there, Cormier wrestled in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece after earning a spot on the United States roster, but barely missed out on earning a medal in the event, placing fourth.

Despite that, DC would win the title for four consecutive years in the US Senior National Championships in Las Vegas.

After the 2008 US Olympic Trials, Daniel Cormier retired from freestyle wrestling to focus exclusively on MMA.

Daniel Cormier as a Fighter: The UFC Comes Calling

Daniel Cormier’s MMA career began with 11 consecutive victories, including stints in the defunct Strikeforce promotion and King of the Cage.

Cormier’s last fight under the Strikeforce banner was the last Strikeforce card ever held on Jan. 12, 2013.

That evening, he stopped Dion Staring with a second-round knockout and then the biggest show in MMA came calling.

Upon Strikeforce’s closure and subsequent merger with the UFC, he was signed to a contract with the latter promotion after the UFC purchased Strikeforce’s assets, including its videotape library and fighter contracts, with Cormier fighting in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions.

Three months later, Daniel Cormier made his UFC debut, besting Frank Mir (unanimous decision) after three rounds, followed up that October by a unanimous decision win against Roy Nelson in his UFC pay-per-view debut in UFC 166, turning to the light heavyweight division in February of 2014.

It was in the light heavyweight division that Cormier met his biggest rival.

The Rivalry: Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones

On Jan. 3, 2015, Daniel Cormier fought Jon Jones for the first time in UFC 182 for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

Cormier suffered a unanimous decision loss to Jones, the first defeat in his MMA career.

Jon Jones was then stripped of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship that April due to fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident and suspended from the UFC indefinitely.

Subsequent to that, Daniel Cormier won the then-vacant 205-lb. championship versus Anthony Johnson (third-round submission due to rear-naked choke), defending the title twice more

A planned rematch between Jones and Cormier was set for the landmark UFC 200 in July of 2016, but the fight would not come to fruition after it was discovered that Jon Jones committed a doping violation and failed a drug test, with the fight instead taking place in 2017.

Jones initially won the rematch in UFC 214 (third-round knockout due to a head kick and punches), but this result was later overturned by the California State Athletic Commission to a no-contest after Jones returned a positive pre-fight drug test for Turinabol.

After this result was reversed, Dana White returned the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship to Cormier, with DC hanging onto the belt before giving up the title on his own accord in December of 2018 to focus on his efforts at heavyweight, having secured the latter championship in November of 2018 (second-round submission due to rear-naked choke) against Derrick Lewis.

Daniel Cormier Steps Down as Light Heavyweight Champion

Cormier made the decision to step away as the light heavyweight champion one day prior to the UFC 232 main event for the strap.

Even if he hadn’t elected to give up the belt under his own power, it would have been vacated regardless as Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson were booked to fight to become the new champion, with DC saying:

“I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped. I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me.”

Cormier then fought Miocic twice, losing both fights, including his retirement bout in 2020.

Cormier Deserves His Spot in the Hall of Fame

At the core, Daniel Cormier richly deserves his place in the UFC Hall of Fame.

If thought about, this man is in unique company, having been the first competitor in UFC history to defend championships in two weight classes, as well as only the second fighter to concurrently hold championships in multiple weight classes.

Daniel Cormier was also an entertaining fighter during his time in the cage, and you could always count on him giving a brilliant performance every time that he was booked to fight.

He’s an equally-entertaining broadcaster now, and if Joe Rogan ever decides to step away from the commentary table permanently, the UFC could easily plug Daniel Cormier in as his successor on pay-per-views without so much as missing a beat.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t too much more to say about Daniel Cormier being enshrined in this year’s class of the UFC Hall of Fame except this:

Congratulations.

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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