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Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, discusses Jon Jones, being the heavy odds favorite, country music and more.
The hottest potato that Strikeforce is offering up to us, fights this Saturday night on their final card. Daniel Cormier is, without a doubt, the most anticipated arrival to the UFC in a very long time. I remember, way back when, for over a year, I waited with bated breath for Vitor Belfort to come back into the arms of Zuffa. Waiting for Cormier to come over is akin to that, for me.
Daniel will be taking on Dion Staring, and just opened as a 20-1 odds favorite over the relatively unknown Blackzilian team member. The line will undoubtedly narrow as fight day approaches, but Cormier feels that this is a disrespectful and impractical opening line. I spoke with Daniel today, to get thoughts on his upcoming fight and future.
I think that's actually ridiculous. It's pretty disrespectful to Dion, too. This guy has had a long career and fought a lot of people, and for them to just count him out like that is kind of ridiculous. In an MMA fight, all it takes is one punch from a 240 pound man to put you on your ass.
It's kind of sad, because I think when we look back on the organization, Strikeforce had a great product and great fighters. For them to have invested in me the way they did, and given me the opportunity to build my career, basically on TV the whole time, has been amazing. With Strikeforce you had young guys like myself, Tarec Saffiedine, Tyron Woodley ... we were growing through the Challenger series and building on cards underneath big name stars. A lot of people got to see us that normally wouldn't have. When I fought Jeff Monson, people might have tuned in to see Alistair Overeem fight Fabricio Werdum, but they got to see my fight. People got to see my fight with Bigfoot Silva thanks to Strikeforce.
Other organizations don't necessarily have big names like Overeem, Diaz, Fedor, Werdum. Guys like that draw eyes to the card that the younger guys can build on. Strikeforce was doing exactly what the UFC was doing, in a sense, in that you tuned in to see a Georges St. Pierre fight, and discovered someone else on the undercard. That's how you build your future stars, and I don't know if Bellator has big enough name guys to actually draw that audience in, outside of Mo (Lawal).
That sucks. I don't know all the details. Basically, they matched the contract, but in essence, it's not really matching it, because there's no way they could sell as many PPVs as the other organization. It would suck if that situation happened to Mo. We have to remember though, that we're getting this stuff second hand, third hand. Only Eddie and those guys really know what's going on. If that is the case, it sucks, and I would hope that Mo wouldn't get caught in a situation like that.
He's rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, it seems like, but fans are just looking for the next guy that can potentially challenge him. When you look at our skill sets, I present different challenges than most people do right now. You know, I can look forward to things, not past my next fight, but forward to all this stuff, and it starts to get fuzzy and grainy in quality. I'm not gonna fight this weekend and wait until he fights Chael, and if he beats Chael, wait until he's ready to fight again. I'm not doing that. I want to be real busy. Hopefully I win this fight, and get to fight in April against Frank (Mir).
If I can get through Dion and I can get through Frank, that would put me at 12 wins with four pretty big names on there. I think that would put anyone in title contention. It's like I said last year, when everyone would keep asking about challenging Cain. If I'm in title contention at heavyweight, why not just go down a weight class and challenge at 205? That would become my reality. If I was able to get past Frank, and hopefully Cain would be defending his belt, and they offer me the fight at 205, then I would love to go do it. I respect guys like Randy Couture and Dan Henderson that fought all those different weight classes just to get big fights. That's what I want. I want big fights. If they said after this fight with Dion, that they wanted me to wait for Jones, I don't necessarily want to wait eight months to fight. I'm 33 years old. I need to be fighting.
It's been great from the moment I first walked into that place. Jav's been great. Bob's been great. It's good to have a variety of people in the gym because different relationships form. I have a great relationship with all my coaches and all my teammates. The commitment that I get from my coaches is unreal. I went to New Mexico to fight KOTC on three day's notice. Bob and I went, no problem. I got three days notice to go fight in Australia. Bob and I jumped on a plane and went. We're a team. We're a family. We're together every day. Every time I go into that cage, I know that my coaches have pushed me, my teammates have pushed me, and that I'm not going into that cage by myself.
Cain Velasquez' competitive nature
Listen, I spilled water on the table at dinner with Cain, in Vegas, so he knocked his water over, trying to get more water on the floor than me [laughs]. That's how competitive he is. I'll tell you a funny story. Mike Kyle has got it figured out completely. You hit Cain, he's coming back, guns blazing. Mike took Cain down in training, so I started yelling, 'Cain, you're not an all American anymore!' As soon as that happened, Mike fell on the ground and started acting like he was hurt, because he knew what was about to happen [laughs]. He was on the ground, 'Ow, my back, my hand, my arm, my knee'. He was trying to fake an injury in like four different places because he knew Cain was coming, guns blazing. It was so funny. He should never have scored that takedown. That was the worst thing he could do [laughs]. Finally, Mike got up, and it was just ugly. Cain went after him like a bull. El Toro is what we call him in the gym.
Pride in Valsquez' win over JDS
I was so happy for him. He deserves it. He works hard, he's committed. This guy was getting up in the morning at 6:30 AM, driving to his strength coach by 7:30, because Cain lives like thirty minutes away from San Jose now. He'd work out from 7:30 - 9:00, drive back home, eat breakfast, drive back to the gym at noon, train a couple hours, go home, eat, get some rest, and then come back at night to train again. He put in an unbelievable amount of work to prepare himself for that fight. He did everything he was supposed to do and more. It was awesome to see.
I'm not a closet Taylor Swift fan ... ok, ok, maybe I do like Taylor Swift a little bit. People don't know this, but I listen to a lot of country music. It's because I came from Oklahoma State, and over there, the coach would only play the country music station on the radio. I started liking it, and now I can't get off of it. So yeah, I listen to a lot of country music [laughs].
It was bad at first, but eventually I started humming along, then I was singing along, then I wasn't so embarrassed to sing along, and now I've just accepted it. I've quit making excuses to my friends, and just accepted it. It's like the seven stages of grief [laughs].
You can follow Daniel via his Twitter account, @DC_MMA