It’s not exactly rare for a fighter to have some words with past or future opponents. Apologies, though, don’t come around that often.
So there’s something refreshing about UFC light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier’s willingness to admit he was wrong, during a recent MMAjunkie Radio appearance, in the way he went about former title challenger Anthony Johnson.
Cormier (19-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) and Johnson (22-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC) met twice in the octagon, at UFC 187 and UFC 210. Other than the fact both fights ended in rear-naked-choke submission wins by Cormier, they had in common somewhat respectful lead-ups. Things, however, turned sour recently – when Cormier took issue (via “Talk and Talker”) with Johnson’s possible return from retirement and buddy-buddy attitude with former 205-pound champ Jon Jones prior to the UFC 214 encounter between Cormier and Jones.
Johnson, who announced he was hanging up his gloves immediately after their UFC 210 encounter, didn’t take too kindly to being called “(expletive) soft” on Cormier’s podcast. So he responded to the “crybaby” champ on Facebook:
To which Cormier fired back. (via Twitter)
After speaking to other people, though, Cormier realized he was off base. While there’s a side of him that’s measured on his words and approach, Cormier said, there’s also the ultra competitive side, which comes out swinging when he feels disrespected in any way.
That, the champ explained, is what we got in this whole Johnson ordeal. But that doesn’t make it right.
“After Rumble put that post up, I tweeted him,” Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio. “But then I texted him. Because I was mad. Like, ‘I’m mad. I want to fight.’ The reality is, I texted him, and I said some things that weren’t very cool. But then I was talking to somebody that means a lot to me and they said, ‘Why are you so mad? You started it. You said stuff. And you’re mad at him.’
“So the reality is, I was wrong. I should not have called him soft. But I thought that I didn’t like the action, but why do I expect so much out of him? Why do I expect him to not be able to be respectful and still compete at the highest level of the sport?
“So I walk it back a little bit. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said anything about him being soft. Everybody does not have to view competition like I do. And I think that’s why – if he wants to be friends with (Jones) and be nice and cordial, then fine. What does that matter to me?”
In his post, Johnson joked about the lack of logic in Cormier’s thinking that he could have given Jones any advice on how to beat him; after all, Cormier did beat Johnson twice. And Cormier, now, agrees.
Mostly, though, Cormier said he was peeved by seeing his two two-time opponents hugging and being playful with each other – simply because that’s something that he wouldn’t do due to his competitive nature. But he, with a hand from his wife, also realizes that not everyone has to go about things the same way he does.
“I was wrong,” Cormier said. “It took me talking to Ali Abdelaziz (Johnson’s manager) of all people. Ali was like, ‘You guys are like – what the hell?’ He was right. But I talked to somebody last night. And my wife, she goes, ‘I get it. You’re a man. You’re from Louisiana. You don’t like to be disrespected. So when you feel a challenge, you go at it head-on.’
“But she goes, ‘You were wrong. You didn’t have to say that about him in the first place. What was the point? You won both fights.’ But, again, it’s just me looking at competition a certain way. And I guess just expecting people to do it too. And it really doesn’t have to be that way.”
Cormier’s issue with Johnson, however, wasn’t only with the Jones situation – but rather with the former challenger’s quite unexpected announcement that he would be leaving MMA to pursue other endeavors after the loss to Cormier. Which, again, the champ now sees is not his place to judge.
“I think the bigger issue for me was just not even the thing with Jones; it was like, ‘Man, I wish you would have just thought about it a little more before he made that decision,’” Cormier said. “Look, I said it before: I hope he comes back. Because he should be fighting. He’s that good. But it was just so quick.
“It just seemed like he should have taken a little more time in regards to making that decision, but who am I to pick when he retires? I’ve just got a different way of viewing stuff, man. I guess that’s why I am who I am.”
While Johnson has yet to formally announce anything on that end, his manager recently told “The MMA Hour” that a comeback was being discussed – this time, at heavyweight. Cormier, on his end, thinks a “Rumble” comeback is imminent. And he wants to make amends.
“I do believe he’ll fight again,” Cormier said. “So I’ve got to talk to ‘Rumble.’ I need to talk to ‘Rumble’ and try to either apologize or make it right in some way, shape or form.”
It’s unclear whether Cormier has since reached out directly to Johnson. But, in the meantime, the champ used the MMAjunkie Radio stage to get his message out there.
“The reality is, I was wrong,” Cormier said. “Not everybody should view competition like I do. So to Anthony Johnson, I apologize. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. And because I said it, I have to truly expect him to respond. And he did.
“And because he responded, I should not try to fight him in the streets of Las Vegas. I’ve got to be better than that.”
And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.