The UFC’s dual-weight world champion Daniel Cormier has admitted that he took his UFC 230 bout with Derrick Lewis despite carrying an injury to his hand.
Cormier well and truly saved the UFC’s blushes after the unanimously underwhelmed reaction to their decision to rebook Valentina Shevchenko from UFC 231 to a 125lb title bout against the relatively unknown Sijara Eubanks.
Bringing in DC to fight UFC 229 standout Derrick Lewis was certainly a case of striking while the iron was hot. ‘The Black Beast’ absorbed quite a lot of punishment despite being able to take home the win against Alexander Volkov in the dying embers of their three-round showdown on October 6 but managed to elevate his status in the sport considerably.
His quick turnaround has come as a result of a need for a passable UFC 230 headliner and in reality, we should expect to get a less-than-100% Lewis by the time November 3 comes around.
According to Cormier, who spoke to Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour yesterday, he is also coming into this one in less than ideal condition.
He took the fight on short-notice but still believes he has more than enough in the tank to defeat the highly dangerous heavyweight who he will share the octagon with next month.
“Man, I always wanted to compete, but I was hurt and I kinda set my sights on just waiting for Brock [Lesnar].
“Then the UFC called me and asked me. They said Derrick Lewis. I said, ‘Okay, let me see if my hand will hold up when I punch something. If it does, then yeah, I’ll go fight.’
“It’s good enough to fight. Not 100%, I’m going to be honest.”
As for the specifics, DC wasn’t afraid to explain exactly what has been troubling him with his hand.
“My fist is closing but not all the way. It feels like I have like a badly jammed finger.
“Like, I can make a closed, tight fist, but it just feels like if I could pop it, I would be okay. The problem is I’m just too afraid to pop it. It hurts. Like, I’m not popping it. I’m just kinda hoping that if I’m sparring and I punch someone, that it pops and goes back to normal.
“I’m telling you, I’m going hard though. I’m hitting dudes. I’m punching dudes and trying to get ready to fight.
“I’m not going to cheat myself and go into this fight with Derrick — I have to be very prepared. The guy is a big, strong, tough guy who’s there to win the fight, so I have to be prepared to do everything in there.”
Whether this is genuine honesty or mind-games isn’t exactly clear but I suppose Cormier has been in the game long enough at this stage to know how to approach the weeks that lead up to main-event headlining bout.
It should still be an absolutely cracking contest.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena