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Daniel Cormier Exclusive: Frank Mir Fight Is Perfect Springboard into the UFC

May 19, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Daniel Cormier addresses the media in a press conference after defeating Josh Barnett (not pictured) during the heavyweight tournament final bout of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix at HP Pavilion.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterJuly 26, 2012

On Wednesday night, I was at home working on another Bleacher Report story for Thursday. I heard the news that Frank Mir had agreed to move to Strikeforce to face Daniel Cormier, and while talking to Mir's manager Malki Kawa about the move, I sent one of Cormier's best friends a text message with the news.

The friend is a fellow named Daniel Rubenstein, and I've mentioned him in this space before. He was, like Cormier, a collegiate wrestler and is as knowledgeable as they come on the subject of international wrestling. He'd just gotten off the phone with Cormier 10 minutes before receiving my text, and Cormier knew nothing of his next fight.

Cormier had been under the impression he would be facing Tim Sylvia on September 29 for several weeks. He'd heard rumors circulating the past few days that Zuffa was looking to bring in a different opponent on a different date, but he wasn't going to change his training camp up until he knew for sure, so he was at American Kickboxing Academy training for the fight when Rubenstein relayed him the news.

When Cormier called me an hour later, you could hear the good news in his voice.

"I was excited, man. I couldn't have imagined getting such a huge-name guy and fighting a guy that just fought for the UFC championship only a few months ago," Cormier told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "I didn't know what to do with myself. I was dropping my cell phone."

One can hardly blame Cormier for being excited. Finding out that you're going from Sylvia to Mir is almost like winning the lottery, or whatever the lottery amounts to for a guy stuck in Strikeforce for one more fight.

"Not to disrespect Tim Sylvia, but he hasn't really been fighting at the top of the sport for the last few years. He's been fighting wherever he can. I think the last top-level guy he fought was Fedor, and he got beat really quick," Cormier said. "So it's exciting to fight a guy that's been fighting at the top of the sport for his whole career, a guy who just fought for the title and was coming off three or four straight wins in the UFC before that. It's a great fight."

The fight, on paper at least, is a dubious one for Mir. He's never had great success with high-level wrestlers, and to say that Cormier is a high-level wrestler would be the understatement of the year. He's a former Olympian, after all, and is likely—and this is without hyperbole—the very best wrestler in the entire sport. 

"That's going to be my biggest strength over everybody that I fight. I think that's a no-brainer, and it's my biggest advantage in almost every fight I have," Cormier said. "Also, there are a couple more advantages. I think speed. I think conditioning. Some of those areas that I haven't really shown a weakness in, and he's shown a weakness in at times."

Cormier is a very happy man. He gets to cap off his Strikeforce career against a big-name opponent and then insert himself directly into the mix in the UFC. 

"I think it is. Frank is a guy who has been a champion twice. His name rings a bell. It's synonymous with the UFC. So UFC fans will actually come over to watch Frank fight, and he'll get a lot of eyes on me," Cormier said. "And regardless of the outcome, more people will see me and know me as I move into the UFC than before I fought Frank, or if I'd faced someone else in my last Strikeforce fight."

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