Last Saturday evening’s Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finale ignited the emergence of a new star within the Mixed Martial Arts Empire. Proud wrestling Olympian and freshly crowned Strikeforce heavyweight champion – Daniel Cormier, has stormed into the upper echelon tier of his respective division.
The American Kickboxing Academy protégé extended his career resume to an immaculate 10-0, after his authoritative thrashing of seasoned veteran – Josh Barnett. The accomplished wrestling stand out displayed the continuous evolution of his MMA repertoire, showcasing a catalogue of striking techniques against Barnett and a series of thunderous slams and throws over the 25 minute bout duration. The most impressive aspect of Cormier’s thrilling performance was the unerring composure he exhibited inside the Strikeforce hexagon.
After just three years of experience in Mixed Martial Arts competition, it was remarkable to witness the fluidity and poise emerge from such a high profile bout against one of the sports most established competitors. "The Baby Faced Assassin", Josh Barnett, has battled and conquered some of MMA’s most pioneered combatants, but was unable to mount any significant offense against the San Jose resident. One young man all too familiar with crushing respected and weathered icons of the sport is Jon "Bones" Jones.
But, Daniel Cormier is a heavy weight and Jon Jones is a light heavy weight. Before you begin thumping your keyboard in a maddened rage, allow me to elaborate. Cormier has previously expressed his desire to compete at 205lbs. in an interview with Sherdog.com:
"Daniel Cormier: You know I cut a lot of weight during wrestling. So I’m going to stay up for right now. Hey, for the right opportunity you go down and lose the weight. For the right opportunity you lose the weight and you fight at 205, but right now I just need to enjoy this transition. I don’t need to be worrying about weight management at this point in my career. What I need to be doing is worrying about getting better. By doing that, by staying up and not worrying about weight control, it’s going to allow me to focus on my training and just improving my skills. Learning how to…. to fight, you know."
"Sherdog.com: Your last Olympic weight was 211 lbs. Where do you think you’ll come in for a fight?
"Cormier: I see myself long-term fighting at 205. But in the beginning, I see myself fighting up at heavyweight because right now I want to enjoy this. I don’t want to cut all the weight I did throughout my whole career."
"Sherdog.com: What do you weigh right now?"
"Cormier: Right now, probably 245 or 250. I’m a big guy. But with the correct diet, I’ll be able to knock that weight off pretty quickly. These guys train so hard at AKA that the weight just peels off of you". "
From the extracted interview, it would appear as though Cormier’s ultimate goal is to claim the light heavy weight title. However, the Olympic bronze medallist has also endured some seriously hazardous issues regarding the health of his kidneys. Daniel was forced to side-line the 2010 Olympic wrestling tournament because of the drastic repercussions of his attempted weight cut to 211lbs.
With the Strikeforce heavyweight division seemingly on its last legs, a UFC move is inevitable at this stage, and given the trusted relationship he shares with former UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, a switch to the light heavyweight division may be his preferred choice. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Cormier uttered his hunger for the sport as well as his desire to alter his weight bracket:
"I don’t want to be just a good fighter. I want to be the best in the world. I could be in line for a championship, but if it came down to us, I’d much rather go to 205. That would eliminate a lot of things. We have a great thing going at AKA — to avoid a lot of negatives, to avoid people having to choose sides, I’d rather move to 205, maybe beat someone and then face Jon Jones. I’d have to have that fight instead of Cain."
Right now is the time for Cormier to strap on his thinking cap and thoroughly assess his future in the sport. A desirable show down with 205lb. kingpin Jon Jones, or a claim to the UFC heavyweight title with team mate and ally Cain Velasquez as a foreseeable opponent?
Let’s assume the former in this particular case and predict Cormier to endure a calculated training regime with the head coaches at AKA in an effort to cut down to 205lbs. How does the man being hailed as "The Black Fedor" stack up against Jon Jones?
A plethora of former wrestlers seeking to transition into the world of Mixed Martial Arts often struggle to integrate their raw wrestling prowess into the game. Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones however, are unusual exceptions to the rule.
I perceive Daniel Cormier as a Rashad Evans 2.0 prototype. The AKA prized pupil has managed to seamlessly blend his Olympic wrestling abilities into the MMA sphere effortlessly, demonstrated in his recent contest with the hardened grappler, Josh Barnett. On top of his world class grappling prowess, I also believe Cormier possesses the finer tuned striking. The Olympic wrestling powerhouse illustrated his striking finesse in both of his clashes with Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva.
Given the increasingly shallow 205lb. division, I can’t think of a better challenger to Jon Jones’ ruthless throne. Daniel Cormier has proven to possess a devastating knack for grappling, along with a diverse and ever improving striking game.
Is "The Black Fedor" the only true challenge to Jon Jones’ throne? Now is the time for Daniel Cormier to rise up to the occasion and showcase the reason for his Olympic accolades against one of the most devastating fighters, in Jon "Bones"Jones.