Three months remain in 2011 and as the year draws to a close it’s time to take a look at the accomplishments in the books. As a fan of the sport, nothing excites me more than witnessing a fighter emerge from a crowded and hungry pool of prospects to join the elite among his division.
Last night’s accomplishments may linger fresh in mind but Daniel Cormier started his year in the StrikeForce Challengers -13 series against a measurably less formidable opponent in Devin Cole. Going into the fight Cormier was 6-0 with his most recent win coming to UFC vet Soa Palelei just two months prior. Cole on the other hand was an experienced journeyman with wins against notable names such as Mike Kyle and Travis Wiuff. Cormier was unable to finish Devin Cole but showed a shockingly diverse skill set for an MMA neophyte. Cormier staggered Cole with a well timed teep kick in the first, landed a confident transition from north south to back control in the second, and proved he had the cardio to turn a middle weight green with envy in the third. There was no doubt in Cormier’s ability to control this level of opposition.
After a five month break, Daniel Cormier made his return in a big way against much stiffer competition. Some argued that Monson was shot, or that he was never any good in the first place. Cormier helped nurture these criticisms in the best way possible – over the course of a fifteen minute beat down that left one time challenger to the UFC Heavyweight Title looking lost and confused as he was beaten to the bunch time and time again. I think it is important to note that while Jeff Monson has seen better days, this was a large step up in competition for Cormier. In addition to a win over Cormier’s previous opponent, Monson has a wealth of experience and has competed at the highest level in two sports, MMA and Submission Wrestling. Cormier made it look too easy.
Despite his success fans were hesitant to jump aboard the DC Express just yet. Yet opportunity came knocking and Cormier found himself thrust into the StrikeForce Grand Prix in Alistair Overeem’s stead. If pre fight predictions and betting lines were any indication, the inexperienced wrestler was doomed to meet his end against a bigger, leaner opponent in Antonio Big Foot Silva. Pundits and gamblers were wrong. In his most impressive performance to date Daniel Cormier consistently beat Silva to the punch, weaving around his opponent’s best placed shots and shrugging off a desperate take down attempt reminiscent of Henderson vs. Bisping in the process. Silva did not make it out of the first round, and now, not even two years after his first MMA fight, only one man stands between Cormier and his first major MMA title.