Daniel Cormier

USA Today

A Sneeze Almost KO'd The Double Champ

A freaking sneeze.

November 06, 2018 - 1:00 pm

Didn’t get to this yesterday but you know I wanted to. UFC 230. Madison Square Garden. History on the line with Daniel Cormier attempting to become to first ever fighter in company history to successfully defend two belts he was holding simultaneously. Don’t sleep on that. It’s one thing to be a champ. It’s another to be the double champ. And it’s its own thing entirely to be double champ twice. It’s never been done before.

And the dude standing in his DC’s way was Derrick Lewis. A brutal heavyweight who packs a grip of dynamite in his four ounce gloves and can finish a fight whenever he wants to. I had both these guys in the Jungle leading up to Saturday. And they couldn’t be more different. And DC told me he knew exactly what he was up against and how Derrick Lewis could put him to sleep with one good right hand. 

But Cormier isn’t the pound for pound best fighter in the world by accident. He can throw with the best of them and win on the ground, too. And he did. And it wasn’t close. DC straight dominated and dismantled Derrick Lewis—owning him on the mat, never allowing him to land a single power punch, and finishing the fight quickly with a rear naked choke in the second round. Thanks for coming. Give me my two straps. 

No disrespect to Derrick Lewis. Guy’s had an unbelievable run to even get that title shot. But he was outclassed by a veteran who has a much more developed multi-dimensional arsenal at his disposal. So the fight wasn’t close. But it was close to never happening at all.

I mentioned DC is a veteran of the fight game. Dude’s the baddest man on the planet—but he had to get in the cage with the baddest man in the history of the universe before Saturday’s fight. Father Freaking Time. An ol’ Padre Tiempo took its best shot at the 39-year-old going straight for the back just hours before the main event. A freaking sneeze.

I’d say I couldn’t believe it—but DC isn’t the first world class athlete to get banged up with a sternutation. Sammy Sosa sprained his back sneezing back in 2004. Mat Latos cracked his ribs sneezing back in 2010. But damn—could you imagine Cormier not walking to the cage Saturday night because he was laid up with a thrown spine from a sneeze?

If you’ve ever slipped your back then you know the kind of agony this guy was in. The L4 and L5 just locking together, slamming down on your nerve ending, making it impossible to walk—let alone go defend the heavy weight belt in the octagon.

Love that my guy’s solution was just to nap it out. The literal sleep-it-off approach. Forget the pills and the chiro and the bent pen—just give me a few Z’s and i’ll be ok. Dude knows his body. Because he woke up and got loose enough to wreck Derrick Lewis in two rounds. 

Hey Chiro Nation--what do you say to sleeping off a thrown back and then winning the heavyweight championship of the world? I don't want to get the wrong side of mall doctors but it doesn't bode well for the industry that a nap cured the baddest dude on the planet. Naps are free. Adjustments are 35 bucks. And they'll want to see you again and again and again.

Credit to DC for fighting off one of the most debilitating injuries in the world just hours before his fight.

And no credit to Hawk who threw his back putting on golf spikes, keeled over into his trunk, slept on the kitchen floor, left his wife to do all the toddler parenting for a week, and then came to work rolling out on foam rollers bitching for two weeks non-stop about how bad it hurt.

DC--the baddest man on the planet. Hawk--the saddest man on the planet. But we all already knew that, didn't we?