Las Vegas, Nevada — Daniel Cormier knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a double champ in the UFC.
After all, Cormier, who currently serves as an analyst for the promotion and will work the UFC 259 broadcast on Saturday, is one of the few to have worn two belts in the UFC. Both light heavyweight and heavyweight gold, simultaneously. Cormier even managed to defend both belts.
And so he also knows a thing or two about the self-doubt that comes with moving up a division, and he doesn’t see too much of it in Israel Adesanya. ‘The Last Stylebender” will move up to light heavyweight atop the UFC 259 card, looking to add 205lb gold alongside his middleweight title.
“I don’t think that the doubt or any of that stuff is present right now,” Cormier said Friday afternoon, after the official weigh-in for the event. “Most fighters have a little bit of doubt. But the moments that he’ll think mostly about this stuff is the private moments. When he’s by himself, tonight. When the coaches are all gone, the quarantine has started, and you’re in there by yourself thinking about how big a moment is right at your fingertips.”
“He is confident. This is a guy that doesn’t doubt himself much,” Cormier observed. Adesanya certainly comes off that way, publicly. “But this is a big ask. It’s in those quiet moments though.”
Those quiet moments will come the night before. The afternoon of, heading to the arena before the fight with Jan Blachowicz, said DC. “Those are the moments where you start to ask those questions, about can you get this big thing done.”
Asked about the difference in power moving up a division, Cormier admitted that “you feel the difference in the power. You can tell they punch a little harder when you’re used to something.” But, he added, it’s just a matter of getting used to that new reality. “Once you get started, get used to the power, used to the speed and the pace at which the fight is going to take place, it’s just another fight. These guys have fought and competed their whole lives, so nothing is going to surprise them.”
There has been talk that, if successful, Adesanya, who weighed in for his UFC 259 title fight at 200.5lbs, could even make the move to heavyweight. He’s dabbled there before, in kickboxing. Many, based on his weight, have discounted that possibility for the unbeaten Adesanya. Cormier doesn’t fall into that camp, however.
“Not necessarily, because he’s a tall guy.” If he was short, said Cormier, Adesanya might be held back at middleweight and 205. “But he’s done it before, right? And I think ultimately you have to make sure that it’s the right kind of match-up if you’re playing with heavyweights. You don’t want to be fighting heavyweight with Francis [Ngannou] as a guy that’s coming from 185. But for the right match-up, yeah, why not? I believe this kid can do whatever he wants. I believe he’s just that good.”
UFC 259 takes place Saturday, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.