My Time on Set with Daniel Cormier and the CF Athletic Team Commercial Shoot

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 by Tony Reid

It was a late start for us as we hit the road headed for Columbus, OH Wednesday afternoon. We made it to our lovely room at the Red Roof Inn and got settled. A few hours later we went to Yogi’s a favorite spot of the man behind Cage Fighter, CF Athletic and the founder of MMA Elite, Michael DiSabato. We had great conversation there for a few hours, talking about the sport of wrestling, the pimps and prostitutes of the NCAA, some of the down and dirty secrets of the wrestling world and so much more. Mike D. is a whirling dervish, a ball of excitement, energy and attitude. If he is one thing it’s passionate about wrestling and changing the sport for the better. If you talk to him for more than five minutes that enthusiasm and passion has to rub off on you. You may not agree with his delivery but it is nearly impossible to argue with the message.

 

Thursday morning we met in the parking lot of Hilliard Davidson High School in Dublin. It is a very nice town outside of Columbus. There was an early morning session with Angelo DiSabato, Michael’s nephew as the star of the show, wrestling and grappling with another unnamed wrestler for specific shots for the upcoming commercial. The production level was first class, top notch all the way. I felt like I was on the set of a Nike or Under Armour commercial. There was a large crew filming as well as a few separate photographers capturing images as well. The day went great and a lot of powerful images were captured for the commercial for the upcoming release of CF Athletic’s first wrestling shoe.

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We were invited to dinner at Michael’s beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood later that evening. The dinner, baked ziti, was cooked by a friend of the family and probably the best I have ever had. I had a great time meeting and getting to know Michael’s family. We came to find out that DC’s flight was delayed and now he wouldn’t be in town until Friday morning and we would begin shooting bright and early.

After flying cross country on a plane held together by tape, after numerous delays and a late baby sitter. Cormier and his fiancé made it to Columbus, (more specifically the suburb of Dublin) Ohio for the CF Athletic photo and commercial shoot for the launch of the new wrestling shoe and clothing line again at Hilliard Davidson High School.

He was there bright and early, shortly after 7am on a very chilly day, with little to no sleep. We were outside near the track and field area and he was carrying logs, flipping tires, shadow boxing, doing dips, running and everything else you could imagine in nearly freezing weather with numerous videographers and cameramen making request after request and wardrobe change after wardrobe change, which he did all with a smile on his face and a quick witted joke or aside, even joking to the photographer to hurry up and take the picture because he had to suck in his gut and could only do it for so long. Mike D. joked that we were doing an interview for a cover story for FO and DC in all seriousness said “I was just on the cover last month, right?” He said that it wouldn’t be necessary to have another cover that a feature would do just fine. He also made it known that he saw the issue the following month and that Jon Jones was the cover boy of that particular issue.

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He was wearing his brand new orange and black signature CF Athletic wrestling shoe. He joked that the shoes need to be redesigned because his actual signature on the shoe was too small. Mike D. assured him the signature was not too small…and also that the shoes would not be redesigned. As he was repeatedly pulling compression shirts and windbreakers over his head and switching out board shorts, track suits and all kinds of other great CF gear DC made note at one point during the wardrobe change that so many guys at light heavyweight, including Jon Jones, are skinny. DC will never be confused with a skinny guy. He is thick, he looks like a throwback to an old 1970’s fullback in the NFL. I stood next to him for most of the day and on a good day I’m 5’10”. DC is no taller than me. He’s an absolute tank of a man. And every ounce of that tank is utilized and used to demolish whoever is standing across from him in an Octagon or on a wrestling mat.

As we walked back indoors for the next session of the commercial shoot DC’s wife showed us all her very nice engagement ring. She mentioned that recently she lost a diamond out of the ring as she was cleaning and doing laundry. She told her soon to be husband the bad news but he took it in stride, knowing the issue would be covered by insurance. A tell that story to tell this one…As we made it indoors we had some down time and I had a nice conversation with DC and I was struck by how mindful he is that this ride doesn’t last forever. “This thing (MMA) will end for me as fast as it stared and I will be back to my regular life and no one will care (about me).” When speaking about Jon Jones he states “I think Jon got too much too soon, he was too young. He was a college dropout. All of a sudden you have everyone telling you that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread… and I’m sure he never dreamed he would be in the position he is in today. Look at guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. They have been groomed from a very young age on how to handle success and attention as they grow and mature. Jon didn’t have anything like that. On top of that I think he is just a weird individual. If you talk to him outside of an interview setting for a few minutes you see how weird he can be. I have known him to go to nice, high end clubs in gym shorts and people let him in! He’s Jon Jones!” I gathered that with all Daniel has been through in his life he feels like he is more mature and much more-well positioned to take the belt and the responsibilities that come with it early next year. He is taking this ride in stride as well.

I showed him pictures of the recent interviews we have done with him for FO and the Latin American version of the magazine. He was very excited to get copies of each, which I promised him. “There was a time when we would try to keep all of the magazines I was on or in. It got to the point where it was too much and too fast to keep up.”

It was great watching him interact will all of the CF guys in attendance. He was goofing around like the guys were all back in high school or college locker room again. He made sure to tell Mike D. that he had gained a lot of weight since he saw him last and he was cracking jokes with all of the filming crew in attendance.

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Once the on the mat filming stared DC flat out put on a show. He was shadow wrestling to start to the point if working up a sweat. A wrestler near his size was brought in to go live with him to film segments of the commercial. DC was executing takedowns and throws at will and right on cue, in the direction of the cameras just as he was directed. On the set we would stop every so often to check out the recently captured footage, at one point DC’s wife caught a glimpse and her reaction to the slow-mo shots was great. She mentioned how Cormier wants to show their son exactly what daddy does and also how Daniel is already teaching him certain wrestling techniques.

As there was a short break in the action when the guys went to get lunch, we were sitting by the set and DC began talking about his children and raising them in sunny California and how tough and hard kids can be in Louisiana. He said he would much rather raise his kids in California and give them a better upbringing than he had rather than raise them in the more rough area and neighborhoods he grew up in, saying that the kids down south are pretty hard. He mentioned details of his ambitions to further his media career after his fighting career is over. He is one of the few mixed martial artists that realize this ride of being an active fighter is extremely short and he is getting his ducks in a row for his post-fight life.

DC headed into the weight room for the next round of the photo shoot but more importantly, maybe, he was hoping to get a legit workout in. He went hard and again didn’t disappoint. He was doing some bench press work, curls, 21’s, squats, medicine ball pushups and anything else that he could manage with the space allotted and with so many people in attendance in the weight room. He was literally dripping with sweat by the time the workout was over. He made sure to make it a point that he wanted a rematch with Mike D.’s son in a previous football video game that DC lost. He wanted to guys to go buy the new UFC game so he could play with the kids and get his revenge later that day.

We broke for lunch and the man himself the Godfather of Ground and Pound, UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman made an appearance for a later scheduled interview with me. Mark was very talkative and even went so far to pose with the kids that approached him for pictures and he made sure to show them how to properly do the all-important post weigh in stare down.

Then we headed upstairs to the mat room for another round of the photo shoot. After spending most of the day with DC I could see he was dragging. He said that last Red Bull didn’t do the trick. He was running on fumes. He swung ropes, ran at a camera as if he was executing a takedown and a number of other shots and poses. Toward the end of the shoot Mark Coleman began yelling words of encouragement to DC, and make no mistake about it, he was the only person in the room that had the right to do so.

After the session Coleman and Cormier sat with me for more than 30 minutes to talk about a wide array of topics. Even after that interview DC sat with me for another 20 minutes to do a follow up of sorts. I couldn’t help but be impressed with how professional he was in every way throughout the entire day. I must have tanked him ten times and hugged him a few more as we parted ways for the day.

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From there we went indoors and he spent at least an hour (probably two) wrestling hard while putting on a great show for all in attendance. He was just as entertaining off the mats while interacting the friends, crew members and fans. I think it was about this time when he first stopped for as much as a drink of water all morning.

Then we went into the weight room where he got a legitimate workout in all while being photographed and recorded for the commercial. His workout was inspiring and left the adults and especially the young men in the room in awe.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then right back at it. We went upstairs to the wrestling room and DC proceeded to run, jump, swing ropes and do everything else that was asked of him. It was clear after spending most of the day with him that he was running on empty but he didn’t show it or slow down for a minute.

After that session, by then he was going on, I don’t know how long with no sleep, he sat down for an interview with Mark Coleman and myself. After that 30 minute session he sat with me as long as I needed him to for another interview.

I must have thanked him ten times because I could see how much he needed food and sleep but he fulfilled his obligations and carried himself in a manner that calling him a professional would be an understatement.

So often we hear all the negative stories and the negative side of athletes and sports so I feel like I needed to share this positive story of a guy who deserves your applause. Nothing but respect for DC.

tarted bright and early in nearly freezing weather throwing logs, flipping tires, running, shadowboxing, doing dips and anything else a number of cameramen and photographers asked him to do all while doing a number of wardrobe changes.I’m pretty sure he would never share this story or say this himself so I will. After a few delays and a baby sitter back out, Daniel Cormier flew cross country on a plane that was basically held together with masking tape, arrived a day later than expected and with little to no sleep got out to an early morning photo shoot and grinded through an entire days work with a smile on his face, great stories, quick wit and a level of professionalism that you had to appreciate.

He started bright and early in nearly freezing weather throwing logs, flipping tires, running, shadowboxing, doing dips and anything else a number of cameramen and photographers asked him to do all while doing a number of wardrobe changes.

From there we went indoors and he spent at least an hour (probably two) wrestling hard while putting on a great show for all in attendance. He was just as entertaining off the mats while interacting the friends, crew members and fans. I think it was about this time when he first stopped for as much as a drink of water all morning.

Then we went into the weight room where he got a legitimate workout in all while being photographed and recorded for the commercial. His workout was inspiring and left the adults and especially the young men in the room in awe.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then right back at it. We went upstairs to the wrestling room and DC proceeded to run, jump, swing ropes and do everything else that was asked of him. It was clear after spending most of the day with him that he was running on empty but he didn’t show it or slow down for a minute.

After that session, by then he was going on, I don’t know how long with no sleep, he sat down for an interview with Mark Coleman and myself. After that 30 minute session he sat with me as long as I needed him to for another interview.

I must have thanked him ten times because I could see how much he needed food and sleep but he fulfilled his obligations and carried himself in a manner that calling him a professional would be an understatement.

So often we hear all the negative stories and the negative side of athletes and sports so I feel like I needed to share this positive story of a guy who deserves your applause. Nothing but respect for DC.