Cormier doesn’t believe for one second that his UFC 230 opponent Derrick Lewis doesn’t work extremely hard to get himself into the best shape possible for his showdowns inside the octagon.
Lewis has managed to establish himself as one of the promotion’s most popular fighters over the course of the last few weeks. UFC 229 saw him pull off one of the all-time great come-from-behind victories – knocking out Alexander Volkov with just 11 seconds left on the clock to earn his shot at the belt.
But even if you put his ridiculous ability to turn the tide of a fight to one side, this guy’s personality and unique skills on the mic have been enough to get him to the dance.
We’ve all been aware of ‘The Black Beast’ for quite some time now but in the wake of last month’s blockbuster event in Vegas, his popularity has certainly elevated to another level entirely.
In comparison to some of the more aggressive personalities in the sport, Lewis is a picture of hilarious nonchalance.
Speaking to the media during the event’s open workouts (via MMAFighting), DC attempted to break down the persona Lewis portrays to us – citing his belief that he isn’t as laid-back about his training as he seems.
“I believe he trains a lot harder than [he says].
“I believe he’s not really as hurt as he pretends to be when he’s against the side of the Octagon. Derrick is a little smarter than you guys think. But the problem is he’s smart in a way that you learn when you grow up in urban areas.
“He’s kind of got a little more street smarts. But I grew up in those same places. I can see through his facade.
“He’s not a dummy. This guy knows what he’s doing. He’s trying to trick us all, but don’t think that Derrick Lewis is some ignorant guy.”
Cormier believes that it takes a certain type of person to do what Derrick has been to able to do with his life. As a younger man, he served a three-year stint in prison for aggravated assault and worked as a tow-truck driver before going pro in mixed martial arts.
Since his release, he has, of course, managed to turn his life around in the most dramatic of fashions. For that reason, DC is in no way taking this man lightly.
“This is a guy that went to jail as a youth and honestly when you go to prison as a kid, especially a young black kid, a lot of people give up on you. In that cell, you tell yourself a lot of things.
“You say, ‘I’m gonna do better when I get out.’ I’m gonna be this and I’m gonna be that. And the vast majority of the guys who do say those things, they never change. They go back and do the same thing.
“Derrick Lewis didn’t, right? Derrick Lewis became a millionaire. Derrick Lewis is fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world. There’s something different about him and that’s why I know what’s in front of me this weekend.
“So let him try and trick you guys. But pay very close attention to who he really is. He’s a smart guy and he ain’t tricking me.”
The dual-weight world champion wasn’t afraid to admit that he’s a fan of his opponent, though – both inside the octagon and outside.
“I’m a fan of his story, yes. I love the way he fights, I think he’s great. I’m a normal guy. I love his Instagram, I think it’s hilarious.
“But I love Dan Henderson. I’ve been watching Dan Henderson since I was a kid. Aspiring to be him and be in the Olympics. And look what I did to him.
“So I’m gonna go and try to rip Derrick Lewis apart. There are levels to this fight game. I’ve said this before. And I’ve shown I’ve competed at a level above most people for a real long time.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena