“You really think I grabbed that towel?”
That was Daniel Cormier just back in May, responding to a video of his infamous UFC 210 weigh-in in Buffalo—posted by none other than Tony Ferguson—where the former two division champion appeared to have missed weight for his title fight against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. Minutes later, however, Cormier stepped on the scale again to give making weight another shot, this time, with a little helping hand.
Cormeir has long denied that he ever intentionally used the towel that extra pound and get to official title weight, instead arguing that he was merely balancing himself and making sure that the towel didn’t fall and leave him exposed. And since the New York State Athletic Commission never seemed interested in taking action (beyond creating a new regulation against future towel grabbing scenarios), he could have gone on denying any nefarious intention forever.
That makes it something of a shock that, during his UFC Hall of Fame induction speech, the former US men’s Olympic team member finally decided to come clean about what happened that day in 2017.
“Guys, I want to tell you something because I feel like right now is the time to be completely transparent,” Cormier admitted to the audience, after receiving his award (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I think I may have grabbed the towel in Buffalo.
“I walked to the back after missing weight by 1.2 pounds. It was 1.2. I tried to give it up, guys. Trust me, I tried to give it up. I had a pound to lose. They even went and called my wife to try and get me back in the tub. I said ‘No way, this sh-t is over.’ She told me ‘Daniel, just take a hot bath.’ I go, ‘It’s not that simple.’
With his body apparently unwilling to shed any more water weight, it seemed like Cormier was out of options. That’s when his coach offered another, more underhanded route.
“I walk back, [my coach] he goes ‘DC, do you remember the old wrestling trick?’” Cormier continued. “I said, ‘Can you stand behind me?’ Because there’s two—you can put your hands behind you and your person can lift you up. He said, ‘No, it’s the towel one.’
“Do you understand the level of ridiculousness that has to happen in order for that to work?” Cormier said. “I looked down and I could not believe my luck. I am a lucky guy. Even when I would lose, the belt would just somehow come back to me. I was like, I’m a lucky guy.
“So I look down and the commissioner’s on the floor looking at the scale. There’s a second lady and I look down — she’s right next to him, so I grab the towel and I’m like, ‘S*** we’re home free.’ [Marc] Ratner, I know I would never get you like that, but in New York, first time, you know what it is. It is what it is.
“‘Rumble,’ I’m sorry my guy.”
The longtime AKA talent went on to defeat Johnson via second round submission, picking up his second light heavyweight title defense in the process. He followed that victory with a knockout loss to Jon Jones, which was later overturned to a ‘No Contest’ as part of Jones’ own ‘picogram’ scandal. Cormier was reinstated as champ and defended the belt one more time before moving up to heavyweight and capturing the title from Stipe Miocic. He retired from active competition in 2020 with an overall record of 22-3-1, and has since become a constant voice in the UFC broadcast booth.