Cormier is the son of Joseph and Audrey Cormier. He has an older brother named Joseph, a sister named Felicia and a younger brother named Ferral. When Cormier was eight, his father was shot and killed on Thanksgiving Day in 1986 by the father of his second wife.
In high school at Northside High, Cormier won 3 Louisiana state championships in wrestling. After 9th grade Cormier only lost twice, both times by injury default. His final high school record was 101-9, with 89 of his victories coming by a fall. Twice he was voted the most outstanding wrestler of the state tournament. In 1995 Cormier won a bronze medal in the world championships in Greco-Roman Wrestling, in the cadet (15–16 years old) division. Cormier was also an all-state football player at high school in the linebacker position, and had a fast 4.5 time on the 40 yard dash. Cormier was offered a scholarship to play football at LSU, but declined in order to continue to pursue wrestling.
After high school, he attended Colby Community College, where he was a two-time junior college national champion at 197 pounds, in 1998 and 1999. His record was 61-0, with 33 falls. After Colby, Cormier transferred to Division I wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State University. In 2000, Cormier went 26-5. He entered the national tournament as the #3 seed at 184 pounds, but fell one match short of becoming an all-American (given to the top 8 finishers in each weight class). In 2001 Cormier went 27-5. He became an all-American by reaching the finals of the 184 pound weight class, where he lost to Cael Sanderson 8-4. His final record was 53-10, with 27 falls. 6 of Cormier's losses were against Cael Sanderson.
After graduating from OSU with a degree in sociology, Cormier went on to have a successful career in Freestyle Wrestling. He was the senior U.S. national champion every year from 2003–2008, and represented team USA at the world level for each of those years as well. He competed at 96 kg, or 211.6 lbs. At the 2004 Olympics he took 4th place after losing to Khadzhimurat Gatsalov in the semi-finals. Cormier was also a member of the 2008 Olympic wrestling team for the USA, where he was named team captain, but was pulled from competition due to kidney failure, brought on by excessive weight cutting.
In the non-Olympic years, Cormier reached the top 5 at the Wrestling World Championships on two separate occasions, 2003 and 2007. He won a bronze medal at the 2007 competition. Cormier also won a gold medal at the quadrennial Pan American Games in 2003. Another major accomplishment came in 2005 where Cormier became one of a select few Americans to win a gold medal at the Golden Grand-Prix Ivan Yarygin, held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and considered by many to be the toughest wrestling tournament in the world.
Cormier also competed and represented the Oklahoma Slam team in the now defunct Real Pro Wrestling league and was crowned a champion in the first and only season in 2004, for the 211 lb weight class . While he competed in Real Pro Wrestling, he was also teammates with fellow Strikeforce mixed martial arts competitor Muhammed Lawal, who also was a season 1 champion, in the 184 lb weight class.
After the 2008 Olympics, Cormier decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, in the Heavyweight division. He trained with Cain Velasquez, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck at American Kickboxing Academy. It helped him improve as a striker and submission wrestler.
After making his professional debut in September 2009, Cormier traveled to Australia and fought for Xtreme MMA. He defeated Lucas Browne to win the XMMA Heavyweight Championship on July 31 of 2010. Two weeks later Cormier won his second MMA title by winning the KOTC Heavyweight Championship from Tony Johnson. He landed a solid punch on Johnson in the first round, causing his larger opponent to shoot in, but Cormier quickly gained the advantage with superior wrestling and grappling and won the fight via rear-naked choke.
Cormier signed an eight-fight deal with the Strikeforce organization and debuted at Strikeforce Challengers: Kennedy vs. Cummings, defeating Gary Frazier by TKO.
Cormier fought at the event Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs. Mahe on March 26, 2010, in Fresno, California against John Devine, Cormier defeating Devine by KO.
Shortly thereafter, Cormier fought Strikeforce: Houston event on August 21, 2010. Cormier defeating Jason Riley via submission (punches) 1:02 into the fight.
Cormier next fought Devin Cole at the Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs. Saffiedine event on January 7, 2011, in Nashville, Tennessee. He won via unanimous decision, the first time a fight of his had gone the distance.
Cormier was scheduled to face Shane del Rosario at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum on June 18, 2011, in Dallas, Texas, but his opponent was involved in a car accident and withdrew from the bout. Cormier instead faced Jeff Monson and won via a decision. Cormier used his striking to dominate Monson on the feet and did not allow for any takedowns, negating Monson's submission ability.
Despite Cormier's reservations about competing in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix due to inexperience, height and reach disadvantage over the rest of the field, he nonetheless entered, and faced Antônio Silva on only five weeks' notice on September 10, 2011, at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov, replacing Alistair Overeem. In a shocking upset, he won the fight via KO (punches) in the first round, catching Silva with multiple hits to the jaw, causing him to collapse, and then finishing with two hammer blows to the face of the grounded Silva before the ref could stop the fight. Cormier later revealed that he broke his hand during the fight.
He faced fellow finalist Josh Barnett on May 19, 2012, at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier. Cormier dominated the five round fight, becoming the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45). It was discovered that Cormier, once again, broke his right hand during his last bout with Barnett, and underwent hand surgery.
Daniel Cormier was rumored to face former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia in his return to Zuffa and Strikeforce debut, but on July 21, UFC President Dana White said "no Tim Sylvia is not with Zuffa".
Cormier was scheduled to fight former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir on November 3, 2012, at Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir. However on September 19 it was revealed that Mir was forced to pull out of the bout due to an injury.
Cormier fought Dion Staring at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine on January 12, 2013. He won via TKO in the second round.
Cormier made his promotional debut against Frank Mir on April 20, 2013, at UFC on Fox 7. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Due to Cain Velasquez, Cormier's teammate, being the current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cormier considered moving down to the UFC's light heavyweight division. Some writers expressed doubt in his ability to cut down to the 205 limit safely, citing Cormier suffering kidney failure during his time as an Olympic wrestler, trying to make 211 lbs. After failing to compete at the Olympics, he gained 40 lbs.
In his second UFC fight, Cormier faced Roy Nelson on October 19, 2013, at UFC 166. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Prior to the bout, he announced that win or lose, he would be moving down to the Light Heavyweight division. Cormier weighed in for the bout more than 20 pounds lighter than previous contests, at 224 pounds.
Cormier was expected to face Rashad Evans at UFC 170 on February 22, 2014, in his first fight at light heavyweight. However, a leg injury knocked Evans off the card ten days before the event, and he was replaced by newcomer Patrick Cummins. Cormier won the fight via TKO in the first round.
Cormier was briefly linked to a bout with Rafael Cavalcante on July 5, 2014, at UFC 175. However, it was announced that Cormier would instead be fighting Dan Henderson on May 24, 2014, at UFC 173. After dominating the fight with his wrestling and top game, he won via technical submission in the third round.
Daniel Cormier was chosen as spokesperson for his new Cage Fighter signature wrestling shoe when he competed in an exhibition wrestling match against Chris Pendleton during the UFC Fan Expo.
Cormier was expected to face UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones at UFC 178 on September 27, 2014, after Alexander Gustafsson was forced to withdraw due to a torn meniscus. However, on August 12, Jones was forced to pull out of the bout against Cormier citing an injury. The fight eventually took place at UFC 182. At UFC 182 Cormier was defeated by Jon Jones by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46). Despite the loss, Cormier was awarded a Fight of the Night bonus.
Cormier was expected to face Ryan Bader on June 6, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 68. However, on April 28, 2015, it was announced that Jon Jones had been stripped of the Light Heavyweight championship and suspended indefinitely after facing felony charges stemming from a traffic accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Subsequently, Cormier was pulled from the Bader fight and replaced Jones against Anthony Johnson on May 23, 2015, at UFC 187 for the vacant title. In the early opening seconds of the fight, Cormier was dropped by an overhand right by Johnson. Cormier would go on to win the next two rounds and eventually submit Johnson by rear naked choke in the third round to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight champion. The last time the championship changed hands was 2011. The fight also earned Cormier a Performance of the Night bonus.
Cormier faced Alexander Gustafsson on October 3, 2015, at UFC 192. Cormier won the back and forth fight via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46). Their performance earned both participants Fight of the Night honors.
In November 2015, Cormier stated that he has signed a new, eight-fight contract with UFC.
A rematch with Jon Jones was expected to take place on April 23, 2016, at UFC 197. However, Cormier pulled out of the fight on April 1 citing a foot injury and was replaced by Ovince Saint Preux. The rematch with Jones was rescheduled for July 9, 2016, at UFC 200. On July 6, It was announced that the fight between Jones and Cormier was off due to a potential doping violation from Jon Jones. Cormier fought former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in a 3 round non title fight at the event. Cormier won the fight via unanimous decision.
A rematch with Anthony Johnson was expected to take place on December 10, 2016, at UFC 206. However, on November 25, 2016, Cormier withdrew from the bout due to injury. The pairing was rescheduled again for April 8, 2017, at UFC 210. At the weigh-in for the fight, Cormier was 1.2 pounds over the 205 pound limit for a light heavyweight championship fight: he was allowed a second weigh-in and came in at the 205 limit. During the fight, Anthony Johnson suprisingly adopted a grappling-based approach, and Cormier was able to retain his title with a submission victory in the second round.
The rematch with Jon Jones took place on July 29, 2017, at UFC 214 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Jones defeated Cormier, recapturing the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship via knockout in the third round, after a head kick and a barrage of strikes on the ground.. In the post-fight interview, a tearful and emotional Cormier showed disappointment of the defeat and said "I guess if he wins both fights there is no rivalry."
Commentator Joe Rogan issued an apology on Twitter to Cormier after the fight for interviewing him where Cormier could not gather his thoughts due to the knock out he suffered in the fight. He said, "My apologies to D.C. And to everyone else upset at me for interviewing him after the fight. In all honestly I was kind of in shock and I don't think I realized what I was doing until I had a mic in my hand and I was talking to him. I've said that I don't want to interview fighters after they've been KO'ed and then I did it to someone that I care a great deal about. It was 100% my fuck up and no one pressured me to do it.... It'll never happen again."
On August 22, it was announced that Jones was flagged for a potential doping violation by USADA stemming from his test sample that was collected after weigh-ins July 28. He allegedly tested positive for Turinabol, an anabolic steroid. Jones was placed on a provisional suspension as a result of the positive drug test and he is expected to be afforded a full adjudication process. On September 13, USADA confirmed that the "B" sample of Jones' tested positive for Turinabol. As a result, the CSAC officially changed the bout result to a no contest and the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship was returned to Cormier. On September 18, Cormier, in an interview with TMZ, said he is open to a third fight with Jon Jones.
Cormier and a former girlfriend had one daughter who died in a car accident on June 14, 2003. He was also previously married to a woman named Robin.
On February 16, 2011, he and his then fiancée Salina had a son, Daniel Jr., who also trains in amateur wrestling at AKA where Daniel Sr. is the assistant coach. On March 4, 2012, Cormier and his fiancée welcomed a daughter. In June 2017, Cormier and Salina were married.
Cormier is known for being a dedicated fan of the New Orleans Saints and professional wrestling.Ultimate Fighting Championship
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship (one time) vs. Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson
Performance of the Night (one time) vs. Anthony Johnson
Fight of the Night (two times) vs. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson
Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion
King of the Cage
KOTC Heavyweight Championship (one time)
XMMA Heavyweight Championship (one time)
Upset of the Month (2011) vs. Antônio Silva on September 10
2015 January Fight of the Month vs. Jon Jones
2015 October Fight of the Month vs. Alexander Gustafsson
2014 Beatdown of the Year vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 173
2014 All-Violence 3rd Team
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Feud of the Year (2014) vs. Jon Jones
International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles
2007 FILA Wrestling World Championships Senior Freestyle Bronze Medalist
2007 Pan American Games Senior Freestyle Bronze Medalist
2007 Dave Schultz Memorial International Open Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2005 Super Cup Senior Freestyle Silver Medalist
2005 World Cup Senior Freestyle Silver Medalist
2005 Ivan Yarygin Memorial Tournament Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2004 Boutiatyr Grand Prix Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2003 FILA Absolute Championship Senior Freestyle Bronze Medalist
2003 Ivan Yarygin Cup Senior Freestyle Bronze Medalist
2003 Pan American Games Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2002 Medved International Championships Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2002 Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2002 Pan American Championships Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2002 Dave Schultz Memorial International Open Senior Freestyle Bronze Medalist
2001 Sunkist Kids International Open Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
2001 Dave Schultz Memorial International Open Senior Freestyle Gold Medalist
1995 FILA Wrestling World Championships Cadet Greco-Roman Bronze Medalist
USA Senior Freestyle National Championship (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
FILA Senior Freestyle World Team Trials Winner (2005, 2006, 2007)
Northwest Senior Freestyle Regional Championship (2008)
John Smith Freestyle Wrestler of the Year Award (2007)
ASICS Tiger High School All-American (1996, 1997)
National High School Coaches Association
NHSCA Senior All-American (1997)
Louisiana High School Athletic Association
LHSAA Division I High School State Championship (1995, 1996, 1997)
LHSAA Division I All-State (1995, 1996, 1997)
National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCAA Division I Collegiate National Championship Runner-up (2001)
NCAA Division I All-American (2001)
National Junior College Athletic Association
NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee (2009)
NJCAA Collegiate National Championship (1998, 1999)
NJCAA All-American (1998, 1999)
Cormier made his film debut in the 2014 comedy Mantervention playing himself.