Daniel Cormier holds no grudges, but the former UFC double champ and current color commentator was still bothered by Phil Hawes’ actions at UFC Austin earlier this month.
Hawes had just scored a second-round TKO win over Cormier’s teammate, Deron Winn, and proceeded to scream at “DC” when he walked inside of the Octagon to conduct his post-fight interview. “Megatron” went directly at Cormier because of his ties to Winn and Cormier didn’t back down. The two were eventually separated and came back together moments later for Hawes’ victory interview.
While most speculated that Hawes had an issue with Cormier because he was teammates with Winn there wasn’t concrete information to fall back on until now. Cormier shared his thoughts on the altercation earlier this week to shed some light on what actually went down inside of the cage at UFC Austin.
“Fight ends, I get up to go do the interview,” Cormier said via YouTube. “As soon as the fight’s over, I press the cough button, drop my head set, and I walk towards the ring, and I can hear Phil yelling at [commentators Dominick Cruz and Brendan Fitzgerald], ‘Where’s DC? Where’s DC?’ while I was walking into the octagon. I step into the octagon and Phil is doing something that we call in Louisiana, ‘Booting up.’ This dude’s booting up on me. Phil’s like this, ‘What’s up, man? What’s up?’ And I was like, what is going on? He’s booting up on me. So I’m like, ‘Me?’ to Phil. And Phil’s kind of telling me that I picked the wrong opponent. Well, if you want to know where that stems from, here it is. I’ll tell you exactly what it stems from.
“When I was in Abu Dhabi, before [when] Phil was managed by this guy named Daniel Rubenstein, he asked me to sit with Phil at Fight Island. Phil and I sat with his advisor, a guy that he’s very close to and we talked and we spoke and then we talked about Phil coming out to AKA to train with me. What happened next was the UFC called and asked for Deron Winn to fight Phil Hawes.”
Cormier revealed that he didn’t believe a matchup with Hawes was in the best interest of Winn. That somehow worked its way over to Hawes’ camp and that is why the middleweight prospect approached “DC” inside of the cage after his win in Austin.
“I said ‘no’ to the fight,” Cormier said. “I didn’t think it was a great fight and obviously look at what played out. It’s not like I was wrong in my thought in regards to the matchup. So Phil is saying I picked the wrong opponent. So I say to Phil, ‘Do you think I pick fights? Do you think I make the fights?’ I go, ‘Phil, that’s ridiculous. I don’t make the fights, my friend. Be respectful. Be respectful.’
“Phil being the great guy that he is, he immediately gets that. Phil’s not a bad guy, that’s what people don’t understand. I hold no ill will towards Phil Hawes for last weekend. He’s high on adrenaline, he had the best performance of his entire career. He feels like King Kong, he feels great out there, he’s hyped up, he’s got this idea — probably something that has motivated him throughout the entire camp — to go and put me in my place because I picked him as Deron’s opponent. The reality is I didn’t do that.”
While things didn’t escalate beyond words Cormier does acknowledge that Hawes was getting underneath his skin just a little bit. Cormier believes Hawes thought he had gotten over on him by defeating his teammate and that is something that “DC” wasn’t going to stand for.
“I think a lot of guys deal with this,” Cormier said. “Myself, Khabib Nurmagomedov. The moment somebody beats one of those guys [Nurmagomedov is associated with], they’re going to feel like they beat Khabib. When people beat my son in a wrestling match, they feel like they got something over on me, but they’re not. They didn’t beat me and that’s what I told Phil. That’s what I told Phil, I go, ‘Phil, you didn’t beat me.’
“Now at this point, I’m a little bit pissed off. Because I’m like, ‘Wow, what is going on here?’ I’m from Louisiana and I’m a fighter and you cannot turn that off. But Phil, to his defense, immediately recognizes that he may be in the wrong. His entire team’s off to the side going, ‘DC, it’s all good’ behind him, he’s just warped up. Everybody came and shaked my hand and we go back and we do the interview. Two professionals doing exactly what we were supposed to do.”
Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and Cormier has buried the hatched with Hawes. In fact, “DC” believes Hawes has enough potential to climb the middleweight rankings and one day fight for the UFC title.
“I have nothing but respect for him and if he fights in the manner that he fought on Saturday, this kid has all the potential in the world to be a world champion,” Cormier said. “That is how good I believe Phil Hawes is. I think he can be world champ if he fights like he did last weekend. He’s that good.”