Daniel Cormier left to weigh his options

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
5:03
PM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
Archive
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will coach opposite former top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen on the latest installment of "The Ultimate Fighter."

Sonnen, who has been needling Jones for several months on the Internet, is sure to entertain viewers with his snappy one-liners. But Sonnen isn’t expected to put up much resistance inside the cage April 27 when he meets Jones.


There is one fighter who made it known that he’d love to take a swipe at Jones, and that guy is more than capable of giving the champ all he can handle -- Strikeforce 2012 Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier.

With one more fight pending with Strikeforce before joining UFC, Cormier has been pondering the possibility of dropping to light heavyweight.

Cormier, a diminutive heavyweight, has said repeatedly that he intends to become a UFC champion. But he won’t fight American Kickboxing Academy teammate Cain Velasquez, who faces current heavyweight titleholder Junior dos Santos in December at UFC 155.

If Velasquez dethrones dos Santos, it’s almost certain that Cormier will begin his exit strategy from the heavyweight ranks and head to 205.

Cormier had expressed interest in coaching opposite Jones on TUF. But once Jones got wind of Cormier’s desire, he shot it down immediately.

“As far as Daniel Cormier saying he wants to coach against me, he would want that, wouldn’t he?” Jones recently told ESPN.co.uk. “He’s relatively unknown. I want to do it when the fans are aware of both guys, and when it’s spunky and when it raises a lot of viewers.

“I’m not here to raise his stock.”

It’s that last line that got under Cormier’s skin a bit. Sure, Sonnen is well-known among MMA fans and he knows how to attract a crowd.

Cormier took exception to the insinuation that he is just trying to ride the champ’s coattails to fame.

“Obviously [Jones] is one of the most popular guys in UFC,” Cormier told ESPN.com. “He’s a champion now and he is quickly becoming the greatest light heavyweight champion of all time.

“He’s within his right to say whatever he wants to say. I truly believe that. But what’s it based on?”

Cormier wonders if Jones is relying on Twitter to measure his fan popularity. Jones has 487,745 Twitter followers, compared to Cormier’s 28,931.

To counter those figures, Cormier offered his own set of numbers.

“When Josh Barnett and I fought on TV, we drew 500,000 viewers,” said Cormier, who is 10-0. “Every time I fight on TV people watch. I’m known to the fans.

“I’ve won every fight that I’ve fought. Maybe it’s just based on the fact that I’m a heavyweight -- the guy’s in a lower weight division.

“He could have said that he doesn’t want to fight a guy who fights in a different weight class. It seems that he was trying to take a shot at me.”

Although Cormier would have accepted an offer to coach opposite Jones on TUF, he isn’t losing any sleep over the matter. And Cormier believes he is in no position to complain.

He’s a heavyweight and his attention at the moment is focused squarely on being his best in that weight class. But there are fighters who have a legitimate beef with the decision to give Sonnen a 205-pound title shot.

“The guys who should be upset are Dan Henderson, Alexander Gustafsson, if he can get past [Maurico] Shogun [Rua], and Glover Teixeira,” Cormier said. “Those are the guys who should have real issues with the booking, not me.

“I’m a guy who fights at heavyweight or could fight down at 205 against Jon Jones.”

Cormier believes Henderson, Gustafsson or Teixeira would make life a lot more difficult for Jones inside the Octagon than Sonnen. He anticipates that Sonnen will get manhandled by Jones.

“It will be entertaining until they get into the cage,” Cormier said. “It’s a very, very hard fight for Chael.

“He’s never been the best standup guy and his wrestling is his biggest thing. But it’s Jones’ biggest thing. Jones is a much bigger guy and more athletic.

“It’s what [the promotion] feels needs to be done,” Cormier said. “You can’t question the organization. We all love Chael as a former wrestler, but when you start making fights based on pure ticket sales and ratings, it sets a bad precedent.

“It’s not based on merit anymore.”

As for his fighting future, Cormier remains in limbo. His fight Nov. 3 fight date started to unravel in September when former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir withdrew due to injury. The entire card was canceled when middleweight Luke Rockhold went down with an injured left wrist.

Cormier hopes to return to action in January -- Strikeforce is working to air an event that month on Showtime. But while Cormier is eager to fight once more under the Strikeforce banner, he isn’t willing to wait around much longer.

The highly ranked Cormier, who is fourth among heavyweights by ESPN.com, want to test his skills in UFC.

“It [his final Strikeforce bout] needs to be January,” Cormier said. “I’m 33 years old; 2012 has now past and I’ve only had one fight. I don’t want to wait until March or April to fight.

“In the past 17 months I’ve only had the Josh Barnett [fight]. In terms of me being busy and being active and my career moving in the right direction, it can’t be eight or nine months between every fight.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?