The 2022 NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships begin today in Detroit with three days and 19 hours of live coverage across ESPN platforms (see sidebar below). While the event has been an ESPN staple since 1980, there are a number of new and exciting aspects this year, including the addition of former UFC Heavyweight Champion and broadcaster Daniel Cormier, who will serve as an analyst for the first time Friday and Saturday nights on ESPN.
Cormier was an NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State. His collegiate record was 53-10, including 27-5 in 2001, when he finished runner-up at the NCAA finals in the 184-pound weight class. Cormier spoke with Front Row about his passion for wrestling and why he is looking forward to this year’s NCAA Championships.
You call yourself “a wrestler at heart.” How did you come to love the sport so much?
Wrestling has given me everything! My education, work ethic – it is the best sport in the world.
I am a wrestler at heart, and I love this sport for giving me everything I have in this world. I am happy to announce that I will be doing the commentary for the @ncaawrestling championships next weekend from Detroit. I will be calling the semifinals and finals. I am so excited! pic.twitter.com/r1ss1peXEL
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 8, 2022
What excites you most about calling the NCAA Championships this year?
I’m excited to experience the championships from the other side, to come full circle in a sense.
Which wrestlers are you most looking forward to seeing compete?
Daton Fix (133 pounds) from my alma mater, Oklahoma State, and [Olympic gold medalist and WWE signing] Gable Steveson (285 pounds) from Minnesota.
What do you remember from your time at the NCAAs?
I just remember the enormity of the tournament – feeling like I would never experience anything bigger. That is what the NCAA tournament makes you feel.
Who was the toughest competitor you ever faced?
Definitely Cael Sanderson. I faced him many times.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sanderson, the current Penn State head coach, is a four-time NCAA champion from Iowa State who finished his collegiate career with an undefeated 159-0 record. Sanderson defeated Cormier 8-4 in the final at the 2001 NCAA Championship.