MMAOB Exclusive: Daniel Cormier Talks Similarities Between MMA and Poker

During UFC 237 fight week, PokerStars and the UFC officially announced more details of their partnership. Of note, UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier along with light heavyweight contender Johnny Walker and cage announcer Bruce Buffer were revealed as the UFC’s new PokerStars ambassadors.

In a press release, the UFC and PokerStars stated the following:

“PokerStars, the UFC’s Official Poker Partner, has announced three new PokerStars Ambassadors ahead of UFC® 237: NAMAJUNAS vs. ANDRADE in Rio de Janeiro this Saturday. UFC® 237 provided PokerStars with the perfect platform to announce that the voice of the Octagon Bruce Buffer, as well as UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and No. 12 ranked light heavyweight Johnny Walker have become ambassadors for the world’s largest poker company. Buffer, Cormier and Walker featured at a special press event following the weigh ins of UFC® 237, which celebrated the collaboration and the launch of PokerStars’ first co-branded product, UFC Spin & Go’s, while also looking ahead to the many products, promotions and experiences the partnership will bring.

MMAOB’s Adam Martin was in attendance at the UFC and PokerStars press conference in Rio de Janeiro and was able to grab an exclusive interview with Cormier, who spoke about the similarities between MMA and poker.

“Oh man, there’s a lot of similarities,” Cormier told MMAOB’s Adam Martin. “From the timing of everything — if you get excited and you start things too fast in poker, your night can be over before it starts.”

DC spoke about how the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestling team members were avid poker players in their free time, and how the game of poker compares to competing in combat sports.

“We used to play a lot of poker before the Olympics. It was the whole team and no one knew what they were doing,” Cormier said. “But you knew if you made a mistake it was over. It’s just like in the fighting game, if you make a mistake it’s over. You have got to be very calculated, you have to be very patient, you gotta know when and where to go. MMA and poker is very similar.”

The old adage says that fighting is mostly mental, and DC agreed, saying that fighting is just like playing poker.

“A lot of people say that fighting is 90 percent mental,” Cormier said. “Well, playing poker is all mental. It’s very similar.”

The UFC heavyweight champion is set to make his second title defense against Stipe Miocic in a rematch at UFC 241 on August 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. He briefly touched on the Miocic fight, and how he’s moved on from the failed superfight against Brock Lesnar.

“The Brock Lesnar thing is done,” Cormier said. “I’m going to fight Stipe and 100% of my focus is on him. It has to be. He’s too good not to have all of my attention on him.

“(UFC president) Dana White called me and said ‘Hey, Brock’s done, what do you want to do?’ I said to him, ‘Let’s fight Stipe and give him his rematch.’ I said that from day one. It just took a while. I said if the Brock fight doesn’t happen then I will fight Stipe. It wasn’t because I was waiting for Lesnar. It was because I was injured. But Dana asked what I wanted to do, and I said to give Stipe his rematch.”

Now 40-years of age, DC was asked how much longer he plans to fight, and he said he doesn’t know how many fights he has left in him.

“At this point, it’s one fight at a time,” Cormier said. “I go fight Stipe and if afterwards I win again and I’m totally content, I can say that I don’t need this anymore. I have other things in my life that give me a purpose. I don’t necessarily need fighting.”

One of those fights is DC’s new ambassador role with PokerStars. This is just the start of what could potentially be a long relationship between the world’s leading poker site and the world’s leading MMA organization, and DC could play a huge role in the partnership’s success. Now let’s wait and see if he knows when to hold ’em, or when to fold ’em when it comes to his own MMA career.

“I want my career to be intact whenever I walk away. I’ll know (when it’s time to retire),” Cormier said. “That’s why I talk so openly about retirement. Physically, I will know. But it will be more mental than physical. I’ll know when to step away.”

Written by Adam Martin.

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