Daniel Cormier put a beating on Josh Barnett last night in Strikeforce. Barnett looked to be in excellent shape, to have improved his striking and all around looked like a very skilled Heavyweight, and it just didn't matter as Cormier won every single round very clearly.
The win puts Cormier at 10-0 and his prospects are looking extremely bright. As mentioned on the broadcast, Cormier is an accomplished international wrestler. In 2004 he came very close to earning a medal at the Athens Olympics and in 2008 he was the captain of the U.S. team, but was unable to compete due to kidney failure during his weight cut. Cormier has put that wrestling pedigree to good use in his MMA career and last night he threw Barnett, a celebrated catch wrestler, around like a grappling dummy.
Once on the ground with Barnett, Cormier seemed very well prepared for Barnett's unique style of guard play by his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach, Leandro Vieira, one of the famous Vieria brothers. Founders of the BJJ team Checkmat, the three Vieira brothers are some of the best competitors and coaches in the submission grappling community. While not a submission wizard, Cormier showed excellent awareness of Barnett's leg lock attacks and even when Barnett was able to enter into a leg lock out of a scramble Cormier was able to stay calm and escape.
more after the jump...
What is most exciting to fans is how developed Cormier looks on the feet. In his last three fights Cormier has been extremely impressive with his boxing. Cormier is a small heavyweight and what he lacks in size he more than makes up with speed. Before tonight you could see Cormier learning to use his speed to set up strikes against Jeff Monson and Antonio Silva, and he continued that progress against Barnett. Throw in that Cormier appears to have natural power in his hands, and it looks we have a legitimate heavyweight contender on our hands.
There were holes in Cormier's performance last night. While he did not gas out, Cormier slowed towards the end of the fight. This expected in a heavyweight fight to some degree but it is something a fighter can always strive to improve. Also Barnett had a lot of success catching Cormier with a knee thrown at distance, trying to time it with Cormier's head movement. This is likely a simple fix in the gym, but it does show that Cormier's striking game is still developing and there could be other flaws, still waiting to be exploited. The other concerning point is that Cormier again broke his hand, at 33-years-old Cormier doesn't really have much time to lose and spending large amounts of time rehabbing hand issues could stunt his growth.
The obvious match to make coming out of this would be with Fedor Emeliankenko. They are both about the same size, both like to strike and Fedor's aggressive sambo/judo style matching up against Cormier's freestyle wrestling would fun to watch. Cormier likely wins, but i'd wouldn't count out a dramatic Fedor submission win,
If Cormier is able to jump to the UFC there will be plenty of excellent matches to make. Alistair Overeem or Shane Carwin would make for intriguing matches as both fighters would give a good sense of how Cormier is able to handle the size and strength of the UFC heavyweight division. With a few more fights, Cormier could very well develop into a UFC Champion caliber of fighter.