The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC 252 — The DC Special

Daniel Cormier UFC
Daniel Cormier Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight,’ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters even in excess of 30 pounds.

Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, we will shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups. Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game.

Daniel “DC” Cormier (22-2,1 NC MMA, 11-2,1 NC UFC)

Light Heavyweight (205lbs): 7-1, 1 NC (UFC), Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

Heavyweight (265lbs): 4-1 (UFC), Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

Daniel Cormier entered the UFC in 2013 at heavyweight. At just 5’11” tall Cormier is as tall as some bantamweights in the UFC but was facing the largest men that the promotion had to offer nonetheless.  Prior to being brought to the UFC, Cormier had won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament scoring wins over heavyweight standouts like Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett in the process.  ‘DC’ competed just two times at heavyweight in the UFC before making the cut down to 205lbs, citing the fact that he didn’t want to compete against his teammate and training partner Cain Velasquez.

At 205lbs, Cormier absolutely dominated the competition, save for one man. DC reached his first UFC title fight against Jon Jones in early 2015, just 5 fights into his UFC career and only his third fight in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Crazily enough, Cormier would never fight without a UFC title on the line again after this, save for a fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 200. However, Daniel would again begin to struggle with his old foe, excessive weight cutting.

‘DC’ was able to make weight for every fight in the 205lbs division though it wasn’t without great struggle or controversy. The biggest weight cutting controversy of DC’s career was undoubtedly the incident dubbed as “Towelgate.” When Cormier was set to defend his light heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson for a second time at UFC 210, he missed weight. Cormier was given a second chance to make the weight and returned to this scale mere minutes later miraculously shedding 1.2lbs and making championship weight. The only problem was, obviously, Cormier didn’t actually shed any weight: he was just resting his hands on the towel right under the eyes of the athletic commission. Regardless, Cormier was able to muster two more cuts to light heavyweight without further mishap, before again returning to the heavyweight division.

Cormier stunned the world when he KO’d Stipe Miocic back in July of 2018, becoming a two-division champion. He was also one of the rare double champs to have defended both of his belts. After Stipe was able to even the score last year and recapture the heavyweight title, Cormier will have the chance to cap off his amazing career at UFC 252 with the most prestigious prize in all of combat sports.

Daniel Cormier is a man that found great success in wrestling on the national level but on the world stage faltered thanks to horribly excessive weight cuts. Following a successful junior college career that saw a transfer to Oklahoma State University that birthed a successful D1 College wrestling career, Cormier not only represented the United States Wrestling team on a world level but he was a United States Senior National Championship winner five years in a row. Cormier just missed the podium at the 2004 Olympic games and although he was the team captain of the 2008 US Olympic wrestling team, he tragically suffered from kidney failure trying to make the 211lbs,  and was pulled from competition.

It’s a true testament to DC’s resilience that he was able to make weight at 205lbs during his pro MMA career after what happened at the Olympics. And to not only make the weight, but to be an exceptional fighter the next day as well. But what better way for Daniel Cormier to end his career than competing for the UFC Heavyweight title after abandoning an excessive weight cut and still finding immense success?