It is no secret that the UFC has a history of borrowing aspects of pro wrestling. Tito Ortiz was all about selling his fights with his mouth, especially during his one-sided feud with Ken Shamrock, when the bad blood was the only selling point. My mind jumps to Rampage vs Rashad Evans, who were clearly just a couple of dudes trying to sell a fight during their ‘rivalry’. Today, one of the biggest PPV draws despite a pedestrian win-loss record, is Chael Sonnen, who many feel is the best promo-man in the world today.
The latest example of the UFC implementing storylines into their product is the Daniel Cormier situation. Daniel Cormier, a former United States Olympic Wrestling captain who is 13-0 in MMA, was set to make his light heavyweight debut (after previously competing at heavyweight) against Rashad Evans. When Evans came up with an injury, nobody wanted to take a fight on such short notice against a dangerous opponent like Cormier. Rather than just move the fight back or reschedule Cormier to a different card, they brought in a man named Patrick Cummins.
If you are like me, you had no idea who Patrick Cummins was before a few days ago. Sherdog informs us that his nickname is “Durkin” and he is 4-0 in his young career. Digging a little deeper reveals Cummins is a high level wrestler who was a 2 time All American at Penn State. He seems like a nice prospect, but a UFC debut fight against Cormier? Nobody gives him a chance to win, so the UFC comes up with a little backstory.
Now, any good lie starts with a small truth, and the UFC utilized this theory properly. Cummins, who worked in a coffee shop during the day, had helped Cormier train his wrestling in the past. Now, you can choose to believe this next part if you wish, but I choose to believe it is embellished. The story goes, that when Cummins used to train with Cormier, that he “broke” Cormier often, and made him cry by completely dominating him. Riiiiiiiiight.
This isn’t to say Cummins isn’t an excellent 205 pound prospect, because he does seem to have a lot of potential, especially with his elite wrestling pedigree. But he isn’t ready for DC, and anyone buying into the hype is eating directly out of Dana’s hand. I enjoy these pro wrestling aspects being brought in the UFC and always have, but for a more realistic portrayal of this fight just ask the oddsmakers what they think. Cormier is coming in as at least a 10-1 favorite across the board.
If nothing else, this entire scenario makes me respect and admire Cormier more than ever. He trained for Rashad and when he got hurt he was willing to take on any challenger. When nobody stepped up and he was presented with Cummins he didn’t hesitate to accept, even though he ultimately stands to gain nothing from the fight but could lose all the momentum from his 13-0 start if he stumbles against his old training partner. Ultimately, I expect Cormier will take care of business, but anything can happen when they lock the cage door for a fight.