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15 years later, Daniel Cormier will fight again at Madison Square Garden at UFC 230

Daniel Cormier rejoices in his win by technical

Daniel Cormier rejoices in his win by technical fall over Brazil's Antoine Jaoude at world freestyle wrestling championships at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 12, 2003. Credit: Getty Images/Tim de Waele

There are a few questions heading into the UFC 230 main event at Madison Square Garden, questions that will be asked and discussed quite frequently but in reality can't be answered until heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Derrick Lewis actually fight on Nov. 3.

Will Cormier's hand, broken in July when he knocked out Stipe Miocic to win the title, be in good enough shape to be useful during the fight?

Can Lewis land one of his powerful punches to knock out Cormier, the two-division UFC champion and two-time Olympic wrestler?

Will either fighter have the stamina to make it through the championship rounds, if it goes that far, with just three weeks' notice?

One thing not in question is Cormier's excitement level for competing at The Garden and in New York City again. Cormier competed in the 2003 freestyle wrestling world championships at MSG.

“It was awesome," Cormier said. "It was awesome. It was awesome. It was absolutely awesome.”

Cormier was 24 years old and two years removed from being an NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State. He went 3-1 in the 2003 worlds, losing his last match to Alireza Heidari of Iran. Heidari finished second at worlds that year and then won a silver medal in freestyle at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Cormier finished fourth in the Olympics.

“Just walking from the hotel to the Garden to compete, was just, my heart felt like it was gonna thump out of my chest the entire time,” said Cormier, now 39. “You can actually feel it as you're walking to the arena. You can feel like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to Madison Square Garden.' It’s crazy.”

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