Exclusive: Daniel Cormier on Preparing for Strikeforce Finale & Possible UFC Opponents
Daniel Cormier has had one hell of a year in 2012. He may have only fought once, but in his lone bout he defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett to capture the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. For five rounds he continuously beat Barnett to the punch and took him down at will.
Due to some strange contractual obligations Cormier had one fight left on his Strikeforce contract and after searching for a suitable opponent the UFC decided they would bring former heavyweight champion Frank Mir over to the Strikeforce cage to face him. Not only did it make a huge splash it would also serve as a huge litmus test for the undefeated American Kickboxing Academy heavyweight.
The bout with Mir never went off due to an injury Mir suffered while he was training for the fight. With only one month left before the card in Oklahoma was scheduled to take place, the fight and the whole event was canceled. Cormier will now face Dion Staring on January 12 and then move on to the UFC. Eight months will have passed since his last fight, but Cormier feels he has never been more prepared.
“Training camp has been great, I’ve been going hard and we’ve kind of had to pull back a little bit,” Cormier told BJPenn.Com Radio. “We’ve got Mike Kyle, Cain Velasquez, Todd Duffee and myself all preparing for our fights and we’ve been banging at each other pretty good for the past five or six weeks. As Todd and Cain wrap it up for next week, Mike and I have a couple more weeks of hard training left so we’re going to keep going at it, but at the same time we’ll take a little step back because everyone is looking real sharp. Once we get to this point where our cardio is in place you want to take it back a bit to avoid injuries.”
For all intents and purposes the January 12 Strikeforce event will be the last time we see anyone compete inside their hexagon cage. This is the organization where Cormier made his name and became one of the most intruiguing heavyweights in all of mixed martial arts. Although he realizes the grass is greener in the Octagon that doesn’t mean he won’t feel a tinge of sadness.
“When it comes to Strikeforce possibly folding, there’s been no confirmation of that, it’s just assumed,” said Cormier. “If that is the case and it’s over for Strikeforce it’s pretty sad and bittersweet. I think Strikeforce had found its place as the number two organization in the world and it was a strong number two. I don’t think anyone else was close and you can look at ratings, viewership and sponsorship. They really solidified themselves as a major player in MMA.”
“It’ll be sad as this is where I not only started my career, but I built my whole career at. It’s kind of a family, you’re used to seeing Scott Coker and all the guys from Showtime. In an ideal world I’d move on to the UFC as planned and Strikeforce would’ve kept going.”
Staring may not be a former UFC champion, but Cormier is not going to overlook him in any way shape or form. When you train with high level athletes as Staring does day in and day out, it will make you a better fighter. Cormier is expecting nothing but the best when the two meet in less than one month.
“I knew from when Staring was supposed to fight Kyle that he was a very tough guy,” offered the Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight Champion. “He’s from a great camp, not even in Florida (The Blackzilians) I’m talking about Golden Glory before that. I know he’s very tough, real physical and the one thing that really stands out about him is that he was part of the military over in Amsterdam. Any time you’re a military guy, you’re pretty damn tough. Dion always brings it and it’s going to be a hard fight.”
It’s no secret that a win over Mir would’ve sent Cormier into the UFC with a legitimate chance to immediately compete for the heavyweight title. Although he has to get through Staring first, Cormier knows he wants to face nothing but the best the UFC has to offer when he makes the transition. Cormier is not the type of fighter who goes around asking for particular match-ups and will be happy facing any one of the top heavyweights the UFC has to offer.
“Well I mean you look at your rankings we can go from the top or we can go from the bottom,” Cormier said. “You want to go from 10-1 we can start with Roy Nelson, if you want to go from the top we can start with Junior Dos Santos. I don’t want to fight Velasquez obviously, but Dos Santos, Mir, Fabricio Werdum, Big Foot Silva again, Barnett, who ever I don’t care, I just want to fight. I think that’s the approach you need to take, especially nowadays. In this era of kind of picking fights, if you take the approach of I just want to fight, good things will happen for you.”