On Wednesday’s edition of The Joe Rogan Experience, Cormier confessed his interest in the alpha male behavior of the animal world. Talking about the infamous “bite fight” in 1997, he reflected on what makes someone go “primal” to maintain their dominance, and he revealed he nearly did so when Jones head-butted him at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“When I was in that press fight with Jon Jones, I was still undefeated at the time, and we were at the MGM Grand, and he head-butted me, like put his head on me,” Cormier remembered. “So, I push him. He’s an alpha male too. So, the f***** attacks me.
“So we get to fighting, and we’re fighting, and Joe, the security guard from the UFC, falls under me. But now I’m on my back as we go flying off the stage. I will say, there was a thought to bite the motherf*****, because, what am I doing on my back, right?”
Cormier later revealed his deep fear of that position from his days of wrestling. The fear was so intense, he refused to sleep on his back.
“I fell asleep on my back one day and woke up in a full panic attack,” he said with a laugh.
Video from the brawl showed Jones on top of Cormier throwing punches. Before the two were broken up, “DC” was getting to that primal point. It was before the two had had the chance to find out the better fighter in the octagon, and neither one would back down.
“I’m losing,” Cormier said of the brawl. “I’m going to bite the son of a b****. I don’t have any mouthpiece in my mouth. And if I would have bit him, that would have been a reaction for a guy that usually will walk around in most places in this world as the alpha, and then when he finds himself on the bottom, as an alpha, he’s got to find a way to survive.”
That’s why Cormier said he could understand why Tyson bit Evander Holyfield all those years ago. The experience of not being the alpha, he said, drew a competitor like Tyson to lose all sense of control — to essentially turn into an animal fighting for survival.
“If I would have bit [Jones], you’d have been like, ‘DC bit him,’ but it’s not the first time we saw somebody bite a motherf***** down there, because Mike Tyson did it three times,” Cormier told Rogan. “It’s so unfamiliar.”
Now retired and a UFC commentator, Cormier spends more time analyzing Jones as a fighter than contemplating how to destroy him in the octagon. The two were fined and suspended as the result of the brawl, and Jones went on to defeat Cormier at UFC 182 and later UFC 214, though the second was overturned due to a failed drug test from Jones.
Cormier has since made peace with his longtime rival. There are moments, however, where Cormier feels that primal impulse.
And he tells his wrestling students: Never end up on your back.