Following a decisive win over former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, Daniel Cormier talked with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night to discuss what lies ahead in his promising career with the UFC.
Having been a longtime fighter for the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Cormier has been vocal in expressing that he will not fight teammate and current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. As he continues to move up the UFC’s heavyweight rankings, however, this leaves the two-time Olympic wrestler with dwindling options. Something many, including Cormier, have hinted at is a drop to the light heavyweight division. Cormier, who wrestled until 2008 at 211 pounds, is a relatively small heavyweight. This has played to his advantage, however, as he has a definite speed advantage without giving up much strength to his larger opponents. Even still, talk of him moving down a weight-class is still at large.
“My thing is this,” explained Cormier, “I want to be the best, and I want to be the champion. I’m not going to just always be the second guy and be OK with that; I have to find a way to be the champion. And that’s the only reason why I’ve talked about going down to the 205-lbs division.”
“It would be very tough,” said Cormier of the drop to light heavyweight. He was forced to drop out of the 2008 Olympic competition due to kidney failure from cutting weight. “It would take a lot of discipline. It would take help from people. I would have to use my resources to make it as easy as possible. It would take a lot of hard work, and a change in my life; I’d have to make a lifestyle change. I’m 235 [lbs], I carry extra weight, that’s no secret; but I work hard. I’m just going to have be very committed to doing it in a safe and healthy way. It’s going to be hard. I will not try to do it as I did in wrestling. I’ve got to try and do it the safest and best way possible. It will be very tough, but again, the ultimate goal is to be the UFC champion. So if that’s what I need to do, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
As of yet, this is all hypothetical. Cormier, as most fighters will admit, must first speak with UFC President, Dana White.
“You know, I’m not sure yet,” he said. “Dana and I are going to have a talk tomorrow and discuss what’s next. You know, he’s going to give me some ideas, shoot some things at me, and either I’m going to grab onto them, or I’m going to bat them away. Me and my management are going to get with him, and we’ll see. I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to do. If they offer me a big fight at heavyweight, I’ll definitely fight at heavyweight. I want big fights, you see. The one thing was that, I was prepared for the big fight with Frank Mir. I loved everything that surrounded it, but it brought a little more pressure. Now that I’ve dealt with that pressure, I still want that. I want that feel, the big fight feel, where I’m fighting in co-main events and main events. So whether that be at the upper weight division, if it’s at 205, I want to entertain the idea. I’m not making any commitment to anything yet, but I want to think about it. I want big fights. Big fights are great; the huge competition is, there’s nothing like it, man: the emotion of it, the butterflies, the preparation, how hard you work, there’s nothing like it, man. I just want big-time competition.”
The big fight on everyone’s mind, of course, is Cormier vs. Jon Jones. Both fighters have discussed this. Cormier, who has always taken an intelligent approach to his career, is wise to being patient in fighting Jones.
He explains, “The thing is, even if I was to decide to go down to 205 pounds, you know, I know it’s going to be a tough weight-cut. I would want to maybe fight someone first. I really would want to fight someone first, because guess what, if I go down there and I don’t feel very good, I’ll have to go back up to heavyweight. I have to be in a place where- but I don’t want to be in there with Jon Jones and not feel my legs, because the guy’s great, you know, he’s going to take you out real good. And a lot of guys can do that, but he can wrestle, and if I don’t feel good and can’t take him down because the weight-cut was too hard on me, then what are you going to do?”
If he decides to make the drop, he will certainly have the time he needs. Jones fights this coming Saturday against Chael Sonnen. A win this weekend will put Jones head-to-head with Lyoto Machida who earned the next title shot by defeating Dan Henderson. Alexander Gustafsson has also clamored for a title shot. The light heavyweight division is stacked with a number of fighters against whom Cormier could fight in his 205-lb debut.
Even if it’s not on the immediate horizon, Daniel Cormier is confident that he will fight Jon Jones. “I’ve always said, I think at some point in our careers we’re going to stand across the cage from each other, and we’re going to put on a hell of a show.”
Be sure to check out the rest of this interview with Daniel Cormier and read about his UFC debut, his thoughts on his victory over Frank Mir at UFC on FOX 7, and his training and teammates at AKA.