San Jose fighter Cormier has plenty of motivation for light heavyweight debut 

In 13 trips to the professional fighting cage, Daniel Cormier — the Louisiana-native who since 2009 has made San Jose his fighting home — has never lost.

And he isn’t afraid to. Cormier will return to the cage this weekend at UFC 170 in Las Vegas against Patrick Cummins, a 4-0 late-replacement for former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who was pulled from the original bout with a leg injury.

“It’s great to fight and it’s great to win. But on a scale of one to 100, losing a fight, it doesn’t even compare with what I’ve lost in my life,” Cormier, 34, said during a recent visit to San Francisco. “Even if I lose, I’m just gonna go back and start working again. Those people that I’ve lost in my life, they don’t get to come back.”

The first of those people was Cormier’s father, who was shot to death on Thanksgiving Day when the fighter was merely 7 years old, and the last was Kaedyn — his infant daughter who was killed in a 2003 auto accident.

“My daughter, she’s my motivation,” Cormier said. “I always say that I never go into the cage alone, because I have everybody at [San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy] with me. But I also have my daughter — my little angel.”

She’ll be on his mind Saturday, as she was on a day in 2004, the day Cummins — according to himself — reduced Cormier to a grieving, weeping hulk.

Cormier was prepping for the Athens Olympics when in a simulated match, USA wrestling Olympic coach Kevin Jackson matched him with Cummins. Cormier lost, as was his “simulated” lifelong Olympic dream.

“Kevin said ‘No. You don’t get to wrestle him again, you lost. Your Olympics is over. You’re not going to be the Olympic champion,’” Cormier recalled. “So yeah, I did run out of the gym and started kinda crying.”

And so goes the story that freed Cummins from his day job at a coffee shop to break into the UFC.

“Under different circumstances, I would be so happy for him,” Cormier said. “Do I hate him for bringing up the story? No. Because he brought intrigue to this fight. But he’s going to pay for that.”

Cormier has had to pay himself to shrink down from 262 pounds — what he weighed when he first entered AKA — to the light heavyweight 205-pound limit. The move was inspired by chance at a championship, something that seemed unlikely at heavyweight with his friend and training partner Cain Velazquez owning that crown.

“It’s much deeper than just two training partners,” Cormier said. “If not for Cain, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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