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Cormier wins ESPY for best MMA fighter

Daniel Cormier coaching Gilroy at the CIF State Championships (Photo/Tech-Fall.com)

The honors keep piling up for Daniel Cormier.

The current UFC heavyweight (265-pound) titleholder and former amateur wrestling champ was named first-ever Best MMA Fighter at the annual ESPY Awards Wednesday night at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1993, the ESPY Awards honor the best achievements, moments and leading athletes of the previous year.

This year's ESPY Awards show was the first to feature separate awards for MMA fighters and boxers. In the past, there was one award covering both sports.

Cormier beat out fellow Best MMA Fighter nominees Amanda Nunes, Israel Adesanya, and Henry Cejudo, 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning freestyle wrestler who now holds both UFC flyweight (125-pound) and bantamweight (135-pound) titles. ESPY winners are determined by an online vote of fans.

After being named the winner, Cormier shared his good news on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Tonight I won the ESPY for the best mma fighter, this is insane. I never would have thought I would ever get nominated for something like this. I have a great support system and they're the reason things like this happen. Salina, you're the glue that keeps this family rolling. To @crazybobcook and @dewaynezinkin you guys have been the best managers I could ever ask for. @akajav the best Head Coach in the business, @rosendo_sanchez , @slikbxr ,@camacho100, @leandrovbteam there is no staff in mma that compares. To my partners each and every one of you have built me from the ground up, special shout out to @officialcainvelasquez and @lukerockhold my brothers who have been there every step of the way. Cassandra and Heidi, all you do is recognized and appreciated greatly, I promise. All my competitors, I appreciate every one of you. The Jones rivalry has stood out above em all and have helped me to gain popularity that many people can't imagine. And you the fans, you've loved me, cheered me and boo'd me, but you cared. It takes a village, I'm just a kid from the Northside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Amazing. Thank you all. I love you DC

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on


Daniel Ryan Cormier launched his pro mixed martial arts career in September 2009, compiling a 22-1-1 record. Just in the past 18 months, Cormier successfully defended his UFC light-heavyweight (205-pound) title at UFC 220, then went on to defeat Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title at UFC 226 to become a champion in two divisions at the same time, one of just four UFC fighters to ever accomplish that feat. He successfully defended his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230. He would later voluntarily relinquish his light heavyweight belt after the UFC announced its plans to put that title up for grabs for the winner of the Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson rematch earlier this year.

Prior to entering MMA a decade ago, Cormier made his presence known on the amateur wrestling mat. He was a three-time Louisiana high school state wrestling champion. After graduation, Cormier headed north to Colby Community College where he was a two-time NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national champ at 197 pounds, in 1998 and 1999. Cormier then transferred to Oklahoma State University, where he was a two-time NCAA Division I championships qualifier, making it to the 184-pound finals at the 2000 NCAAs, losing to Iowa State's Cael Sanderson (now head wrestling coach at Penn State). After graduation, Cormier wrestled freestyle. Among his honors: bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships, a two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Championships, and member of the U.S. men's freestyle team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Cormier remains connected to amateur wrestling, serving as coach at Gilroy High School in California.

There's no rest for Cormier. Next month, the 40-year-old wrestler-turned-UFC champ will have a rematch with Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 in Anaheim, Calif. In two weeks, Cormier will be presented with the George Tragos Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa. That award is presented "to an exceptionally competitive wrestler who adapted his wrestling skills and competitive nature to excel in mixed martial arts," according to the museum.

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