Daniel Cormier: UFC Tonight gig will help me beat Jon Jones
Daniel Cormier always wanted a chance to be on TV.
Even from his days as a two-time Olympian wrestler, Cormier had the gift of gab. He could break down and analyze matches like few could in his sport. He was charismatic and well spoken during interviews. He knew how to place his opinion, back it up with fact and never looked nervous at all.
When Cormier finally made it to the UFC in 2013, the UFC and FOX knew exactly the kind of talent he possessed both in and out of the Octagon. Cormier was brought in immediately to do analysis for UFC pre and post fight shows and before too long he was a guest co-host on the weekly news show, UFC Tonight.
Now less than two years after he first stepped on a television stage, Cormier is the new full time co-host of UFC Tonight. It seemed almost like a formality to name him as the permanent co-host opposite Kenny Florian considering how much Cormier has been guest hosting with him over the last few months since Chael Sonnen exited the series.
Still, when Cormier got the call he was elated with the news.
"It's a big deal. For me, it was like I hope I get this gig," Cormier told FOX Sports. "This would be awesome, it would mean every week I would get more and more reps at getting better in terms of TV. You have guys that are really, really good actually going in there and doing shows. Brian Stann, I think the world of Brian Stann as an analyst. I think he's amazing. Gilbert Melendez was in there, Brendan Schaub was in there and he's gotten so much better since doing his podcast.
"You see all these guys going in there, it is pretty nerve racking, but when you get that announcement it's one of those 'jump up and down' situations."
As happy as Cormier was to get the news about the full-time UFC Tonight gig, there were obviously objections as well when it came to his fight career. Cormier is on the cusp of a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 183 in January and taking on a second job that will pull him away from training might seem foolhardy.
Cormier takes a much different stance when looking at his new job.
The former Olympian has been training virtually non-stop since he was a kid through wrestling all the way until he debuted in MMA. Anyone at his gym, American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, will say that Cormier is the first guy in the door and usually one of the last guys out.
He's a self admitted gym rat. There aren't days off in Cormier's world. Until now.
"I think it's good. Not only do I believe it's good, but I think it's a blessing for me. I'm a guy that gets in the gym and I train and I go hard. I even had my co-host Kenny Florian and Brian Stann a month and a half ago telling me 'DC, you should not be sparring hard yet, you are four months from this fight', but that's all I know what to do when I'm in the gym," Cormier said.
"What it does is force me to take a day off in the middle of the week, which I would not do. I would go hard from Monday through Saturday and by the end of the week I'm so beat up I couldn't do anything."
Fighters are often accused of pushing it in training so hard that injuries happen or by the time the actual fight rolls around they don't have anything left in the tank to actually perform at a top level. Cormier knows that doing UFC Tonight each and every week will force him to take a much needed break to allow his body time to rest and recover.
He can still go full bore every other day, but now Cormier has to shut it down while he's filming the show.
"It forces me to actually take a day off, allow my body to not take the beating and recover," Cormier said. "It's going to work out for me better than actually if I wasn't doing the job. Now, am I going to do the job all the way up to December 26? I don't think so. I usually stop about five or six weeks out from my fight and that's what I'm going to do this time."
As excited as Cormier is about his new job at UFC Tonight, he wants to make it abundantly clear that the thing first and foremost in his mind is taking the UFC light heavyweight title in January. It's been a lifelong dream of Cormier to be a champion and nothing will slow him down as he gets ready to face Jones in just over two months time.
"Fighting is my priority. I have to become the champion," Cormier said. "There's never been an active champion sit at this desk week to week and so it adds value to who I am if I can win that belt. It will help. I think it will really be a good thing at the end of the day."
Of course Cormier also enjoys the other fringe benefits being the co-host of UFC Tonight affords him. Like taking time each week to send a friendly message to his good friend Jon Jones. They used to have to go back and forth via interviews or on Twitter (although Cormier has officially unfollowed Jones at this point), but now Cormier has a captive audience each Wednesday night on FOX Sports 1.
"It probably would not be in his best interest to watch every week because I'm probably going to say something that's going to upset him really bad. I'm probably going to say quite a few things that he won't like," Cormier said about Jones.
"I can reach Jon even whenever we're not around each other."