The UFC's heavyweight and 205-pound divisions are on high alert and rightly so, because Daniel "DC" Cormier is heading that way in the not-too-distant future with one thing on his mind—UFC glory.
At 33, Cormier is no spring chicken in the world of combat sports, and as a consequence any opportunity that arises regarding Ultimate Fighting Championship's Holy Grail, he'll be sure to grab with both hands and more.
The current Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion is one fight from mixing it up with the elite fighters of MMA and on its grandest stage. For Cormier, that time can't come soon enough.
Cormier (10-0 MMA, 7-0 SF) has proven beyond doubt that he has what it takes to not only compete with best that the UFC has to offer, but also crown himself in glory as a titlist in either the heavyweight or light heavyweight class.
That said, here are the reasons why.
A former NCAA Division I standout, Olympian and freestyle wrestling world bronze medalist, Cormier has translated those wrestling attributes into his professional mixed martial arts game with outstanding success.
In the realm of MMA wrestling, Cormier is up there with the best. And with regards to the heavyweight and light heavyweight division, I'll go as far as saying he's nonpareil.
Cormier's affiliating with American Kickboxing Association has helped his grappling, but especially his striking has improved by leaps and bounds.
In the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi finals, his ever-improving technique and power were on display as was evinced by his opening-stanza annihilation of Antonio Silva.
In addition, he's shown he's not afraid to stand and bang if the situation requires it.
To date, Cormier has registered just one authentic submission, but don't let that fool you into believing he can't hang defensively with the discipline's crème de la crème—he accounted of himself well against both Jeff Monson and Josh Barnett, the latter of which he contested and took home the Grand Prix top honors.
Cormier's chances of vying for the UFC heavyweight title are dependent on the outcome of the Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez championship rematch.
If Velasquez recaptures the crown, Cormier has stated he'll have no other option but to move down to 205, as he's reluctant to fight his friend and AKA teammate.
However, if Velasquez falls short in his quest, that leaves the door open for an eventual face off with dos Santos.
That said, it really doesn't matter whether it's dos Santos, Alistair Overeem or any other heavyweight in the division, because Cormier is taking that title home.
As mentioned in the earlier slides, he can wrestle and bang. Moreover, he can take a hit, which is a prerequisite against the likes of the aforementioned combatants.
If Cormier can make the cut to 205 pounds (again dependent on Cain Velasquez winning or losing his upcoming clash against Junior dos Santos) without any adverse reactions, then a fight with the division's top dog, Jon "Bones" Jones, is on.
The phenom has reigned supreme over the division with a rod of iron—dispatching four former champs whilst defending his title on three separate occasions.
Jones's back has yet to be supinely aligned with a canvas in the entirety of his thus-far illustrious career, however, that time is at an end—step forward DC.
As the man himself said:
[...] "Me and Jones standing across the cage from one another. That would be crazy because you know I'm putting him on his back."
And once that transpires (don't doubt for one second that it won't, because it will), the belt will change hands.
Jones's unorthodox striking, height and reach has befuddled most of his opponents, but I believe Cormier standing at only 5' 10" will have an answer no matter what and could even end up winning via KO or TKO.
The bottom is this: Cormier is the one fighter in the light heavyweight assemblage that has the capacity to take Jones to places he's never been before—the darkest depths of MMA hell.
Forget about fighters from other organizations being touted as the second coming and failing to live up to expectations à la Hector Lombard.
With regards to championship mentality, Cormier's professional and amateur résumé speaks for itself.
He'll arrive at the Zuffa gates shorn of his Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix belt, but I guarantee he'll not disappoint on his debut against whomsoever he tangles with and for whatever championship is at stake at the time.