When Daniel Cormier decided it was time for him to drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight there was speculation that he would get an immediate shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. That fight turned out not to be in the cards for Cormier. Instead, he will make his debut at the 205 pound limit against former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. To hear Cormier tell it, that fight will present a greater challenge to him than a fight against Jones.
The 34-year-old Cormier began his professional mixed martial arts career in 2009 as part of the Strikeforce organization. Two years into that run Cormier and his 7-0 record stepped into the cage to face Jeff Monson in a reserve bout for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. When that fight ended, Cormier's hand was raised in victory and he was officially on the bench for the Grand Prix.
When Alistair Overeem was removed from the tournament, Strikeforce looked to Cormier to come off the bench to face Antonio Silva in one of the Grand Prix semifinal bouts. 3:56 into that fight, Cormier stunned Silva and many of those watching, ending the fight by knockout and earning a birth in the Grand Prix final against former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.
When his fight against Barnett came to a close, Cormier took home the first, last and only Stirkeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix title with a unanimous decision. He ended his run with Strikeforce with a TKO win over Dion Staring.
Prior to his October 2013 win over Nelson, Cormier announced his intentions to drop to light heavyweight to make a run at that division's title.
The next step toward that goal will be Cormier's fight against Evans, a fight that will be the co-main event of UFC 170. Cormier recently attended a media luncheon to talk about his upcoming fight, and said Evans will be a tougher opponent than UFC champion Jones because, "I just think that because I've trained with Rashad before, he's felt me before. He's got a different set of skills than Jones. I think that Rashad will be a little more difficult to takedown for me than it would be for a guy with longer limbs.
I don't mind wrestling a guy with longer limbs. I think it works to my advantage because I can get to their legs. Rashad doesn't kick as much, kicking actually feeds your opponent the leg. Jon kicks more so that's easier to grab a takedown, and Rashad is a more dynamic fighter in terms of one punch knockout power. He has more than Jones does."
While Cormier believes Evans will be a tougher test than Jones, he didn't hesitate to give Jones credit for what he has accomplished inside the Octagon. When asked if his teammate and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez could be a more dominant champion than Jones, Cormier responded to that inquiry by saying "It's kind of hard to call anyone a more dominant champion than Jones because of what he does. He's stopped just about everyone that's been in the cage with him."
UFC 170 is scheduled to take place on February 22 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Headlining that card will be a title fight between UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and No. 4 ranked contender Sara McMann.
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