Daniel Cormier Might be the GOAT in the UFC, but He’s Still Probably Under-Appreciated

[USATSI]
Written by Seth Duckworth

Naturally as Oklahoma State fans, or fans of any college for that matter, we love when guys go on to the next levels of their sport and have success. The NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA, Olympics, UFC, any pro outlet; we root for them all when they get there.

There’s no doubt Oklahoma State fans do that with Daniel Cormier. Even more so now that he’s in a category where he may end up considered to be the GOAT in the UFC. I do believe OSU fans realize that and fly his flag proudly every time he fights, but I think there are a few things about this that are overlooked.

You have guys like Rickie Fowler. He wears his orange on Sunday, he comes back and marshals homecoming parades, he stays involved with the program, and with all of those things, deservedly, he has developed a near cult-like following with Oklahoma State fans. It’s awesome anytime he’s anywhere near contention to win a golf tournament, Cowboy fans are elated because he has that following and reputation.

Cormier does similar things and is a guy that deserves that same type of reputation and following when it comes specifically to OSU fans. As a whole in sports media, wrestling unfortunately doesn’t get quite the coverage that it probably should. Maybe that’s why his career has, in a way, sort of flown under the radar with some Cowboy fans. But Cormier is about as good a representative of the university one could ask for.

He got a bit of a late start in MMA and didn’t fight his first fight until he was 30. Between college and his MMA debut he was training for and wrestling in the Olympics. During that time he was heavily involved in the youth programs in Stillwater.

Among current Cowboys, Cormier coached includes Joe Smith, Kaid Brock, and even assistant coach and two time NCAA champ Chris Perry. He likely impacted a number of other young kids’ lives in the process. Cormier posted this on social media after Kaid Brock’s debut where he knocked off defending NCAA champ Cody Brewer. It’s a picture of him and Kaid from when Daniel coached him.

Brock-Cormier

Cormier’s impact on OSU even stretches overseas. While training in Russia, Daniel and Jamil Kelly developed a connection with Alan Gelagoaev, which eventually led Alan to Stillwater. Alan was an impressive heavyweight as a two-time All-American at OSU.

He had some struggles with injuries — and some very poorly timed ones. Unfortunately that’s something you really have no control over, but had he remained healthy, the Cowboys could have picked up at least one additional NCAA title while he was here, possibly two. Regardless, he still had a very impressive career.

Now he’s also helping OSU wrestlers transition into MMA careers. I spoke with Kyle Crutchmer about his process of getting into MMA and how it all came about. He couldn’t have possibly spoken more highly of Cormier and what he’s done for him. Even said Cormier has been like a “big brother” to him. Think that might help recruiting a bit? Zach Esposito can feasibly put in a call to a guy that holds two UFC belts and within a day that wrestler is set up to train with the best MMA camp out there? That’s huge. He’s even donating his salary from his high school coaching job to help support Crutchmer.

Cormier also does similar things we see with Rickie as far as donning orange and black and rocking OSU gear. Almost anytime you see some casual picture of him on social media or something where he’s not officially working he’s wearing an OSU shirt. He even chose orange and black for his “Ultimate Fighter” team colors. He really has a similar fandom and love for OSU that most any OSU fan has.

Wrestling is a small community, and with that I’ve been lucky enough to have some interaction with DC and he’s genuinely a good guy. He was post-college and still in Stillwater and training freestyle at OSU when I was in high school.

Cormier worked camps and that sort of thing that my school went to, and he was really great with kids and passionate in helping them develop. You ask around with just about any in state wrestlers around that time and they’ll tell you something similar. As noted, he voluntarily coaches at a local high school in California

He’s humble, he’s a big family man, he even does a lot of commentary work on the mic for the UFC and he’s great there. All the way around he’s a great representative for OSU. You might see some slightly uncouth stuff from him from time to time when building up a fight, but understand that helps them pay their bills. This is a bit more genuine interview showcasing who Cormier really is.

Ultimately he’s a solid pro and dude who’s orange to the bone and remains a major contributor to the program. He might not have that Rickie-like following when it comes to Oklahoma State University and their fans … but maybe he should.