MMA: Juniro dos Santos
September, 25, 2012
By Franklin McNeil
Mike Roach/Getty Images On pause: Daniel Cormier will have to wait a little longer for a chance to prove he's UFC-worthy.
The injury that forced Frank Mir out of their much-anticipated Nov. 3 showdown was a big blow to Daniel Cormier’s career plans.
Mir was just the kind of fighter Cormier had in mind for his final Strikeforce appearance: a marquee name, two-time former champion and an impressive UFC resume.
Cormier isn’t shy about expressing his desire to become a UFC champion and a victory over Mir would have provided the appropriate notch in his belt to strengthen his case.
But with Mir unable to perform, Cormier’s chances of landing another heavyweight with such high Octagon credentials is slim. And it is forcing Cormier to reexamine his expectations.
“I kind of look at the big picture on a lot of things; so looking at the big picture and what that fight could have done for me in terms of visibility, the advancement of my career, it was disappointing,” Cormier told ESPN.com. “But I have to be focused on whoever they put out in front of me.
“Frank Mir was perfect. He made perfect sense. He’d just gotten off a title shot. He’s a big name; he’s always in title contention. It just made sense.
“I’ve heard that Fabricio Werdum stepped up and said that he would fight; Pat Barry said he wanted the fight, even Roy Nelson. There are guys who want to fight, it’s a big fight. But it’s also a matter of how big a fight they want to get in terms of title-shot implications.
“Certain people, if it is Fabricio, it almost becomes a top-contender fight in Strikeforce rather than in the UFC.”
And that’s a major issue for Cormier. He has only 10 professional fights under his belt, with just four going into the second round or beyond.
There is no wear and tear on Cormier’s muscular frame. But he is 33 years old and time is of the essence.
Cormier is in his physical prime and must move quickly to capitalize on this short-lived time period.
He is currently ranked fourth among heavyweights by ESPN.com. This suggests Cormier is one or two wins from being offered a UFC title shot.
It’s the reason he was so gung ho about registering an impressive win over Mir. Now he’s likely back to his pre-Josh Barnett days.
Beating Werdum won’t hurt, but is likely to keep Cormier behind Alistair Overeem in the heavyweight pecking order. A win over Barry definitely doesn’t move the rankings needle.
“I still want to fight tough guys,” Cormier said. “The best guy they can actually get for me would be great. It’s a matter of who they can get that makes sense.
“I’ve dealt with disappointment before on a way bigger scale than this. I’ve learned to deal with it, it still [stinks]. I will get by; I’ll focus on the guy in front of me. You have to be a professional and I am.
“I just have to be my best on fight night.”
While some of the excitement over facing Mir has diminished, Cormier remains committed to fighting on Nov. 3 in Oklahoma City.
Whoever Strikeforce selects as the Mir replacement Cormier will be fully prepared to battle. He will not take any shortcuts during training.
“I want to be 235 again like when I fought Josh Barnett,” Cormier said. “I felt fast, I felt good, my cardio felt good.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to fight heavier than that again. That’s where I want to stay as long as I’m at heavyweight.”
Cormier realizes there is no guarantee that UFC officials will offer him a heavyweight title shot. But getting the title-shot offer might not be the only hurdle Cormier will have to overcome.
He’d have to think long and hard if his friend and teammate Cain Velasquez reclaims the heavyweight crown in December from Junior dos Santos.
There is a strong possibility that Cormier will decide not to face Velasquez, even if the title was dangled in front of him.
Fortunately, Cormier has options. And having options is the perfect cure to regaining that feeling of excitement.
“If the right fight (at light heavyweight) presents itself I will definitely consider it,” Cormier said. “After this fight (on Nov. 3) it’s over. I get to go to the UFC and take my place among the rest of the heavyweights because they’re no more (in Strikeforce).
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting to finish that part of my journey. That part of my career is over. Strikeforce is over after this fight. Now I can move on to the bigger things and the big things in UFC.”
And by ‘bigger things’ he means becoming a UFC champion at heavyweight or, if necessary, light heavyweight.