It’s no Ghengis Con joint, but it’s something. VidProps: ShoSports
Nation, amongst all the large names and ginormous dudes fighting this weekend, you may have overlooked Daniel Cormier. This weekend’s bout with heavyweight submission grappler/anarchist/tattoo enthusiast Jeff Monson will be Cormier’s fifth fight for Strikeforce since his debut in September of 2009 under the Challengers banner. Perhaps it’s no shock that Cormier isn’t a household name, considering the lack of promotion from his, uh, promotion, but he’s nonetheless a dude you should know.
Come on in past the jump and better know Daniel Cormier, so you’ll have something intelligent to say at the bar while his fight is on.
He’s got mad wrestling cred.
Who is the best pure wrestler in MMA? Daniel Cormier’s resume is the definition of world class: high school champ and All-American, ju-co champ, Oklahoma State alum, member of the US Olympic wrestling team in 2004 and 2008. (Sadly, Cormier could not compete at the 2008 games.) Perhaps the most interesting wrestling experience is his time in the now-defunct Real Pro Wrestling league, where Cormier was a champion. Amateur wrestling rules were tweaked for the RPW, giving Cormier some experience with hybrid grappling and a bridge to MMA competition.
He’s got a great camp.
Cormier hooked up with the people at AKA in San Jose, where he trains with some of the best wrestlers-turned-fighters on the planet: Cain Velasquez, King Mo, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Kyle Kingsbury… we could go on, but we think you’ve probably heard of this team. Training with smaller guys has kept Cormier quick and sharp, and he can match power with the big heavyweights as well. The team has shown that they can teach wrestlers how to strike, and Cormier is a quick study.
He’s not a lay and pray kind of guy.
Cormier is deceptively quick for a heavyweight, and he mixes strikes and takedowns extremely well. He has gone to decision just once, in his last fight versus Devin Cole; his six other victories are split evenly between subs and TKO wins. Only one of those sub wins was actually a sub win in the usual sense: Soa Palelei and Jason Riley both tapped to strikes. Cormier’s powerful ground and pound should continue to rack up victories for him.
He’s already gone golden.
Cormier was just 2-0 when Xtreme MMA out of Sydney, Australia offered him a fight for the XMMA heavyweight championship. Cormier claimed the gold with a TKO victory over Lucas Browne in the first round. (He went on to successfully defend that title as well.) King of the Cage offered him a fight with newly crowned champ Tony Johnson Jr last August, and he dominated Johnson for an RNC win in just two and a half minutes. (Full fight can be found here.)
He seems like a good guy.
Cormier comes off as a class act in interviews, whether he’s talking about his own progression as a fighter or the enmity between his bro-dog King Mo and Rampage Jackson. He seems thoughtful and humble, and have a very strong grasp of what he does well, and what he needs to improve upon. It’s this introspection that puts Cormier’s potential so high.
He’s small for a heavyweight…
…but don’t sweat it. Cormier gets dinged for being undersized at 265, at only 5’11″ (74 inch reach), but he’s powerfully built. Against wrestlers, Cormier’s lower center of gravity is actually an advantage. Against submission artists, his short limbs make for difficult taps. Against pure strikers, his ability to change levels quickly and mix up strikes and shoots can keep kickboxers from pulling the trigger on big strikes and combos. Put simply, it’s going to take a complete fighter to hand Cormier his first loss.
Cormier will face a big test this weekend against Monson, and this could be his coming-out party, with a large expected audience for the heavyweight GP. And if the winner of the tournament vacates the title and moves over to the UFC, don’t be surprised if Cormier claims the Strikeforce belt quickly. If, that is, he doesn’t join up with the big show himself. And that’s the word.