Daniel Cormier and Ryan Bader have a lot of common credentials in their resume. Both started off as elite collegiate wrestlers. After switching to mixed martial arts, both would go on to capture not just one, but two titles – both being the light heavyweight and heavyweight gold. Bader would do so in Bellator, while DC in UFC.
Bader cruised through the tournament designed to crown the new heavyweight champion. His perfect climax came when he knocked out “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianko in just 35 seconds. Despite Fedor being past his prime, Bader’s win over impressive because he didn’t have a significant strike landed on him. It was after this fight that Bader’s coach Jair Lourenco said that he would even beat DC in a hypothetical match up.
When asked for his assessment of Bader, Cormier didn’t chide away from giving him the props he deserves. He also specifically mentioned Bader’s 15-second finish of former collegiate wrestling star King Mo
“I think Ryan’s done tremendous for himself. I’ve known Ryan since he was in college,” Cormier said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour. “He’s always been a hard worker and very committed to his family and everything else. I think he’s great. It is exciting to watch him gain a level of success that he never truly had gotten to in the UFC and the chances that he did get to get there, he had kind of faltered.
“With that being said, he just really dominated those guys and it was crazy because ‘King Mo,’ I watched him tech [Bader] in wrestling. Maybe scored like 10 takedowns. And [Bader] just truly, truly had to reset his mind to even compete against him knowing that his best skill is axed off. He can’t use it against a guy like Mo, so he went out there and knocked him out.
“It’s been nice, it’s been good,” Cormier continued. “It’s hard watching guys like Fedor get knocked out like that. He dominated Mitrione, knocked out Mo. It’s been good to watch him do what he’s done.”
Having said all that, Cormier still wouldn’t pick him in a hypothetical fight between the two. He went on to mention what separates him from his contemporaries.
“But he wouldn’t be able to fight me,” Cormier said. “I like the guy, but it’s just different. It’s just a little bit of a different approach. Look, at the end of the day I’m just nasty ol’ boy. I learned that from Josh Barnett. You get in there, you rub your elbow in their face, you kind of run your hand over their mouth. I’m of the old school, like Josh Barnett. Hurt ‘em even when you’re not doing much and people don’t really like that. Even when I’m huggin’ ‘em, you know when it looks like I’m just huggin’ ‘em? I’m not just huggin’ ‘em. I’m really driving my knuckles into their body, even when I’m on top and I’ve got my elbow in the middle of the solar plexus, I’m pointing that elbow as deep in there as I can.
“There’s always pain, and I learned that when Josh Barnett put the pain on me when we fought in Strikeforce. It’s just a different type of mentality that most guys can’t match. You’ve got to be a dog if you’re going to beat Daniel Cormier — and I don’t know if he has that dog in him.”