Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Daniel Cormier may not have believed in UFC jitters prior to his Octagon debut Saturday night (April 20, 2013) at UFC on FOX 7, but he most certainly does now.
Even though he utterly dominated Frank Mir for three-rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory in the night's co-main event, Cormier did not live up to his personal expectations in the fight and points to the infamous Octagon nerves as the reason.
"I've had a very long athletic career, competed at the highest levels of all my sports and, you know, I always kind of laughed at Dana White he said there's jitters and there's nerves that come along with this," Cormier told reporters at the UFC on FOX 7 post-fight press conference (watch it here). "I was like, ‘My career's prepared me for this, there's no chance,' But man I was nervous today, like I felt so nervous it's almost like you want it so bad, you want to do so well and it's like you just kind of lay an egg a little bit."
The former Olympic wrestler has competed in some of the most prestigious athletic competitions known to man, but as we've seen time and time again, stepping under the bright lights of the UFC is an entirely different animal.
Cormier admits competing in the Octagon was a very different feeling than anything he has experienced in his life. Due to the nerves he became fatigued in a mixed martial arts (MMA) bout for the first time and it resulted in what he considered an underwhelming performance.
"I didn't fight the fight I wanted to," said Cormier. "And more than anything I felt tired and I've never gotten tired -- usually I'm in the fight and I feel great, I can go long and in this fight I was very tired and I think it was my nerves. I was very nervous in the back I felt like my legs were kind of weird."
The UFC debut of the 34-year-old was one of the most anticipated in recent memory and while he couldn't put Mir away inside the distance, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion believes there is a bright side to his effort.
"I went in there and I fought and I fought as well as I could," Cormier stated. "It wasn't ideal, but if you can feel bad and beat a guy that's a two-time champion across the board there's got to be some positives to take away."
Prior to the fight, there was much talk about what Cormier would do after the fight with Mir. The American has the option of remaining at heavyweight or dropping down to 205-pounds to go after the title currently held by Jon Jones.
Cormier hasn't decided what will be the next step for his career, but claims he is flexible and a formal decision will come after he speaks with his coaches, management and the UFC brass.
"It's really going to be a team decision," said Cormier. "We've got to get together with the UFC and my management team and everybody else and figure out what the next step is.
"We'll get together and figure it out. If they say, ‘Well Daniel if your intention is to be a 205-pounder down the line and we need you to do it now,' then I guess that's what I got to do. It will be a team decision."
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