Leave it to DC to invite a student from Michigan State to walk around with the nickname “Mrs. Makhachev.
When Chase Saldate moved to Gilroy, Calif. In seventh grade, a grown up street kid with infectious energy and a passion for sports became one of Saldate’s role models. Ultimately, the neighbor would be future two-time UFC champion Daniel Cormier.
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“I’ve never been a UFC guy or an MMA guy,” Saldate said with a laugh. “I didn’t even know who he was. I had never been to AKA, and after a few weeks of living there my dad spoke to him several times and mentioned that I am a wrestler. DC was like, ‘Hey, you should come fight AKA; come with me. Then twice a week he would drive me there and I would train.
Saldate quickly learned of Cormier’s title challenger status in the UFC, but he still viewed him as his coach and neighbor who happened to be in the UFC. It wasn’t until he was invited to watch Cormier fight in person at UFC 214 that he was blown away by his neighbor’s enormity.
“I was in the fight in person and thought it was crazy,” Saldate recalls. “The next day I’m a huge MMA fan. Now I watch as much MMA as I can and am on top of it all. I pretty much quit all other sports and only watched the UFC and wrestling.
While he’s officially quit all other sports, that doesn’t mean Cormier was willing to give up Saldate’s seemingly daily shots on the Cormier Alley basketball court.
“He would come knocking on my door and say, ‘Hey, come play basketball with me,'” said Saldate. “He would just destroy me. It would start to soak on me and everything. I mean the hoop was six or eight feet. It was low. I can raise my hand and touch the edge now. He doesn’t jump; he cannot jump very high.