As boos rang out across the T-Mobile Arena and social media became awash with criticism of a ‘mediocre’ performance, Daniel Cormier cut a frustrated, yet relieved figure. Cormier’s frustration was understandable; he had just defeated an opponent designated to him a mere 72 hours before their bout; but this was not just any opponent this was Anderson Silva, the greatest fighter in the history of MMA.
Many scoffed at the fight due to the expectation that Cormier was to emerge victorious, almost unscathed, within the opening round. This was based upon information that Silva had just made the journey to Las Vegas to be present at the 200 event, as a mere spectator, and to attend the UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, July 10th. But Silva has a history of performing at peak levels at Light Heavyweight and, therefore, remained a dangerous proposition. His threat to Cormier was played down with age having supposedly caught up with him. This was evident, according to some, during his most recent fight, against Michael Bisping. However Silva retains the ability to ‘flick the switch’ despite his advanced age, as seen towards the end of round three against Michael Bisping and here in round three with a kick delivered to Cormier’s abdomen with scalpel-like precision.
Cormier’s quickly configured plan, to take ‘The Spider’ to the ground, was tactically sound as it subdued Silva’s spontaneous and devastating stand up offense! Cormier, even refused to push forward towards Silva just like Bisping and Nick Diaz had before him, therefore nullifying Silva’s counter punching.
Cormier’s progress on the ground was quelled by Silva’s intelligent defense, which saw him constantly elevate Cormier’s right leg, which hindered the Light Heavyweight’s ability to establish a firm base from which to launch a contest ending finish. An element of the fight that some audience members clearly missed. Cormier did his best with a barrage of short punches from the mount and showed great tact using his veteran knowledge to cover Silva’s mouth to put more pressure on an already shallow gas tank.
Those showing discontent in the venue and on social media must surely acknowledge the psychological and emotional impact the cancellation of Cormier-Jones 2 must have had on ‘DC.’ Cormier’s emotional reaction to the news on UFC’s Embedded was plain for all to see: most evident by his physical reaction, in the form of a foot stomp and bending over in anguish as UFC President Dana White informed him of Jones’ failed result. Surely we can all identify with the man for not being able to fully recover from such a disappointment so close to what may have been the fight he has identified as defining his career; avenging his only loss in his professional career. You surely acknowledged that if Jones returned from the rumoured USADA imposed two year suspension then Cormier, who will be 39/40 years of age may not be in a position to compete with Jones.
Silva had entered the contest with very little pressure and the post fight atmosphere was similar to that given to a veteran player in front of his home fans at the end of a regular season game at the end of an illustrious career. We have seen Silva enter the octagon countless times under similar conditions, most notably against Forrest Griffin at 205lbs, and we have seen him perform with a non-chalant demeanor and deliver strikes with devastating precision.
Cormier’s performance was calculated and precise; which will be applauded by coaches and fighters alike; he also avoided embarrassment and added an illustrious name to his win column; and handed Silva his first loss at Light Heavyweight. Cormier preserved his dignity, and pushes on to preserve his legacy, even if it does come at the howls of a ‘disappointed’ public, a public that cheered and praised a similar performance from Brock Lesnar a mere half an hour later!