By BRIAN HARNISH
This past Saturday, the UFC heavyweight title fight for the belt went down. The battle was between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis in Madison Square Garden. The champion being Daniel Cormier with a record of 22-1-0 and the contender being Derrick Lewis, with a record of 21-6-0. Daniel Cormier has had an extensive wrestling background. At the 2004 Olympics he took fourth place after losing to Khadzhimurat Gatsalov in the semi-finals.
Cormier was also a member of the 2008 Olympic wrestling team for USA, where he was named team captain, but was pulled from competition due to kidney failure, brought on by excessive weight cutting. Meanwhile, Derrick Lewis did not enter the MMA fighting stage until 2009 and has not had as much experience. Before entering the UFC, Lewis also spent four years in jail after violating his probation for an aggravated assault arrest. So Cormier was favorited.
The experience gap was quite apparent to viewers. According to sophomore business major Kolin Hoffman, it seems as though Cormier was much better at grappling, as he was diving for Lewis’s feet and wrestling him to the ground.
“Derrick Lewis was just severely outclassed from a wrestling standpoint by a two-time Olympian and the fight showed that,” said Hoffman.
Lewis has a more martial art background which causes him to rely on his legs.
“It was kind of boring, Cormier was just dodging trades and was looking for a way to wrestle Lewis down,” said sophomore Bradley Torrington.
This means that Cormier was not exchanging punches as frequently as Torrington believed he should have been. Instead, Cormier was looking for ways to wrestle Lewis down because of his excessive experience in wrestling that he knew Lewis did not have. The fight ended when Cormier “ankle picked” Lewis and put Lewis into a rear naked choke.
Cormier was under heavy criticism for picking Lewis over Stipe Miocic or Jon Jones as his fight. Many believe that it would have been a much closer fight if he picked the latter over Lewis. Especially because, in early 2019, Cormier will be stripped of his light heavyweight title when Jones returns.
Hoffman said, “I love Derrick Lewis from a fans perspective, but there would definitely have been much more competition if DC [Daniel Cormier] picked Stipe Miocic or Jon Jones, and I don’t think [Cormier] wanted that”.
Cormier skipped over many potential contenders that would have made for a better fight, but he chose to take the “easier” fight so he can end his career on a stronger note. His next fight will be against Brock Lesnar to defend his heavyweight title, another “easy fight” due to the fact that Lesnar is a wrestling type fighter and he is not of the same caliber as Cormier.
The seasoned Cormier had the upper hand from the start because of his extensive experience and Olympic background. Both Hoffman and Torrington saw the fight as uninteresting and underwhelming because of the experience gap and the style of fighting. Despite the viewers’ opinions on the fight, they still watched it. Approximately 900,000 viewers tuned in to watch the fight. Both fighters obviously have appeal to the audience even though the fight was predicted to end with Cormier as the victor.