UFC 230 went down on Saturday night from Madison Square Garden in New York City, and while it didn’t hit the cursed level of last minute fight changes we’ve seen from some other UFC / NYC cards, it almost did. As if losing Dustin Poirier vs. Nate Diaz wasn’t bad enough, imagine if Daniel Cormier pulled out of his heavyweight title fight with Derrick Lewis on the day of the event. Crazy? Unthinkable? According to “DC” it almost happened.
”Let me tell you why it was more pressure,” Cormier revealed to FOX Sports after his second round win (watch the highlights here). “This morning I woke up and I sneezed, and my back slipped out. So all day, I’m telling you man, I tried to do my morning run and I could not run. So the UFC sent me over Heather who gave me a massage, they put me on the stim machine. I was laying on a heating pad all day. I couldn’t do anything because my back slipped out because I sneezed. I sneezed and threw my back out this morning so I was a little bit worried.”
”I mean, mid-day Bob Cook even told me ‘If you don’t - either you’re going to feel better, or you’re not going to fight.’ Luckily, by 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I was just laying there on that heating pad. Finally got up, went and walked around the city a little bit and my back started to loosen up.”
Cormier admits he didn’t want to pull out but was leaving the decision in the hands of his manager (who has that big money Brock Lesnar fight to keep in mind).
”I didn’t want to but Bob Cook, who is my mentor and manager in this fight game, was thinking about it,” he said. “He said ‘This guy’s going to get better or he’s not going to fight. I’m not going to let you go fight if you can’t do anything.’ ... By about 4 or 5 o’clock I was like ‘Okay, I’m starting to feel a little bit better’ and it just started to loosen up, and I thought ‘I’m just going to go out and fight.’”
As dominating as everyone was calling Cormier’s win over Lewis at UFC 230, his performance looks extra impressive given the state of his back. If a sneeze could cause a day’s worth of mobility issues, we’re sure one bad step or twist in the cage could have put him right back to where he was earlier in the day. To still go in there against one of the heaviest hitters in the UFC shows you just how much mettle the defending champ-champ has.