Daniel Cormier is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is currently #9 in official UFC pound-for-pound rankings and ranked as the #2 light heavyweight and #7 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by Sherdog. Cormier is also the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion.
As a high school wrestler, Cormier won three Louisiana State Championships. After his freshman year, Cormier only lost twice, both times by injury default. His final high school record was 101-9, with 89 of his victories coming by a fall. Twice he was voted the most outstanding wrestler of the state tournament. In 1995, Cormier won a bronze medal in the world championships in Greco-Roman Wrestling, in the cadet (15–16 years old) division. Cormier was also an all-state football player in high school at the linebacker position, and ran a 4.5 40 yard dash. Cormier was offered a scholarship to play football at LSU, but declined in order to continue to pursue wrestling.
After high school he attended Colby Community College where he was a two-time junior college national champion at 197 pounds, in 1998 and 1999. His record was 61-0, with 33 falls. After Colby, Cormier transferred to Division I wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State University. In 2000, Cormier went 26-5. He entered the national tournament as the #3 seed at 184 pounds, but fell one match short of becoming an all-American (given to the top 8 finishers in each weight class). In 2001, Cormier went 27-5. He became an all-American by reaching the finals of the 184 pound weight class, where he lost to Cael Sanderson 8-4. His final record was 53-10, with 27 falls. Six of Cormier's losses were against Cael Sanderson, who, with a 159-0 record, is considered the greatest college wrestler of all time by many.
After graduating from OSU with a degree in sociology, Daniel went on to have a successful career in Freestyle Wrestling. He was the senior U.S. national champion every year from 2003–2008, and represented team USA at the world level for each of those years as well. He competed at 96g kg, or 211.6 lbs. At the 2004 Olympics he took 4th place after losing to Khadzhimurat Gatsalov in the semi-finals. Daniel was also a member of the 2008 Olympic wrestling team for the USA, where he was named team captain, but did not compete due to kidney failure, brought on by excessive weight cutting.
In the non-Olympic years, Cormier reached the top 5 at the Wrestling World Championships on two separate occasions, 2003 and 2007. He won a bronze medal at the 2007 competition. Cormier also won a gold medal at the quadrennial Pan American Games in 2003. Another major accomplishment came in 2005. Cormier became one of a select few Americans to win a gold medal at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, held in Russia, and considered by many to be the toughest wrestling tournament.
Cormier also competed and represented the Oklahoma Slam team in the now defunct Real Pro Wrestling league and was crowned a champion in the first and only season in 2004, for the 211 pound weight class. While he competed in Real Pro Wrestling, he was also teammates with fellow Strikeforce mixed martial arts competitor Muhammed Lawal, who also was a season one champion, in the 184 pound weight class.
After the 2008 Olympics, Cormier decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, in the Heavyweight division. He trained with Cain Velasquez, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck at American Kickboxing Academy. After making his professional debut, Cormier traveled to Australia and fought for Xtreme MMA. He defeated Lucas Browne to win the XMMA Heavyweight Championship. Two weeks later he made the first title defense of his career against Soa Palelei. He won via submission to punches in the first round, but broke his hand during the fight.
Cormier won his second MMA title by winning the KOTC Heavyweight Championship on November, 2009 from Tony Johnson. He landed a solid punch on Johnson in the first round, causing his larger opponent to shoot in, but Cormier quickly gained the advantage with superior wrestling and grappling and won the fight via rear-naked choke.
Cormier signed an eight-fight deal with the Strikeforce organization and debuted at Strikeforce Challengers: Kennedy vs. Cummings, defeating Gary Frazier by TKO.
Cormier fought at the event Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs. Mahe on March 26, 2010, in Fresno, California against John Devine, Cormier defeating Devine by KO.
Shortly thereafter, Cormier fought in Strikeforce: Houston August 21, 2010. Cormier defeated Jason Riley via submission (punches) 1:02 into the fight.
Cormier next fought Devin Cole at the Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs. Saffiedine event on January 7, 2011, in Nashville, Tennessee. He won via unanimous decision, the first time a fight of his has gone the distance.
Cormier faced Jeff Monson at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum on June 18, 2011, in Dallas, Texas and won via a decision. Cormier used his striking to dominate Monson on the feet and didn't allow for any takedowns, negating Monson's submission ability.
Despite Cormier's reservations about entering Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix due to inexperience, height and reach disadvantage over the rest of the field, Cormier faced Antônio Silva with only a 5-week notice by his management team on September 10, 2011, at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov, replacing Alistair Overeem. In a shocking upset, he won the fight via KO (punches) in the first round, catching Silva with multiple hits to the jaw, causing him to collapse, and then finishing with two hammer blows to the face of the grounded Silva before the ref could stop the fight. Cormier later revealed that he broke his hand during the fight.
He faced fellow finalist Josh Barnett on May 19, 2012, at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier. Cormier dominated the five round fight, becoming the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion by unanimous decision. It was discovered that Cormier, once again, broke his right hand during his last bout with Barnett, and underwent hand surgery.
Daniel Cormier was rumored to face former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia in his return to Zuffa and Strikeforce debut, but on July 21, UFC President Dana White announced "no Tim Sylvia is not with Zuffa".
Cormier was scheduled to fight former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir on November 3, 2012, at Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir, however on September 19th it was revealed that Mir was forced to pull out of the bout due to an injury.
Cormier fought Dion Staring at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine on January 12, 2013. He won via TKO in the second round.
Cormier made his UFC debut against Frank Mir on April 20, 2013 at UFC on Fox 7. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Due to Cain Velasquez, Cormier's teammate, being the UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cormier considered moving down to the UFC's light heavyweight division. Some writers expressed doubt in his ability to cut down to the 205 limit safely, citing Cormier suffering kidney failure during his time as an Olympic wrestler, trying to make 211 lbs. After failing to compete at the Olympics, he gained 40 lbs.
In his second UFC fight, Cormier faced Roy Nelson on October 19, 2013 at UFC 166. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Prior to the bout, he announced that win or lose, he would be moving down to the Light Heavyweight division. Cormier weighed in for the bout more than 20 pounds lighter than previous contests, at 224 pounds.
Cormier was expected to face Rashad Evans at UFC 170 on February 22, 2014, in his first fight at light heavyweight. However, a leg injury knocked Evans off the card ten days before the event, and he was replaced by newcomer Patrick Cummins. Cormier won the fight via TKO in the first round.
Cormier was briefly linked to a bout with Rafael Cavalcante on July 5, 2014 at UFC 175. However, it was announced that Cormier would instead be fighting Dan Henderson on May 24, 2014 at UFC 173. After dominating the fight with his wrestling and top game, he won via technical submission in the third round.
Daniel Cormier was chosen as spokesperson for his new Cage Fighter signature wrestling shoe when he competed in an exhibition wrestling match against Chris Pendleton during the UFC Fan Expo.
Cormier was expected to face UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones at UFC 178 on September 27, 2014 after Alexander Gustafsson was forced to withdraw due to a torn meniscus. However, on August 12, Jones was forced to pull out of the bout against Cormier citing an injury. The fight eventually took place at UFC 182. At UFC 182 Cormier was defeated by Jon Jones by unanimous decision. Despite the loss, Cormier was awarded a Fight of the Night bonus.
Cormier was expected to face Ryan Bader on June 6, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 68. However, on April 28, 2015 it was announced that Jon Jones had been stripped of the Light Heavyweight championship and suspended indefinitely after facing felony charges stemming from a traffic accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Subsequently, Cormier was pulled from the Bader fight and replaced Jones against Anthony Johnson on May 23, 2015 at UFC 187 for the vacant title. In the early opening seconds of the fight, Cormier was dropped by an overhand right by Johnson. Cormier would go on to win the next two rounds and eventually submit Johnson by rear naked choke in the third round to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight champion. The last time the championship changed hands was 2011. The fight also earned Cormier a Performance of the Night bonus.
Cormier faced Alexander Gustafsson on October 3, 2015 at UFC 192. Cormier won the back and forth fight via split decision. Their performance earned both participants Fight of the Night honors.
In November 2015, Cormier stated that he has signed a new, eight-fight contract with UFC.
A rematch with Jon Jones was expected to take place on April 23, 2016 at UFC 197. However, Cormier pulled out of the fight on April 1 citing a foot injury and was replaced by Ovicne Saint Preux. The rematch with Jones was rescheduled for July 9, 2016 at UFC 200. On July 6, it was announced that the fight between Jones and Cormier was off due to a potential doping violation from Jon Jones. Cormier fought former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in a 3 round non title fight at the event. Cormier won the fight via unanimous decision.
A rematch with Anthony Johnson was expected to take place on December 10, 2016, at UFC 206. However, on November 25, 2016, Cormier withdrew from the bout due to injury. The pairing was rescheduled again and is expected to take place on April 8, 2017 at UFC 210.