Daniel Cormier has made a major splash since joining the world of mixed martial arts. Since debuting with Strikeforce, fans have watched him evolve into a complete fighter who can defeat some of the best in the world.
After winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Cormier must fight one final time under the organizational banner before his contract can be transferred into the UFC. There was a lot of speculation of who would face the Olympian in his final fight, but ultimately, Dana White landed on former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
With last night's news that Mir has been forced out of the November 2 contest with Cormier, the hotly anticipated cross-promotional bout now needs a replacement.
Here is a look at five fighters who could potentially replace Mir to fight Daniel Cormier later this year.
Let's go ahead and get this one out of the way quickly.
Sylvia is a former world champion and an imposing physical presence in any fighting organization. With only six weeks to find a suitable opponent a high caliber fighter like Daniel Cormier, the UFC might just have to settle on Big Timmy because he is the only option who is ready, willing and able.
Sylvia has openly campaigned for any opportunity to return to the UFC, and it was erroneously announced in July that the former champion would be the original opponent for Cormier.
Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? Much more today than it was a month ago.
Another safe choice that needs to be addressed. Josh Barnett is the only non-UFC fighter to be ranked as a heavyweight other than Cormier, and with most other heavyweights either booked or injured, he is potentially the highest ranked option on the table.
Barnett and Cormier seemingly agreed to fight one another on September 29, the original date for Cormier's final Strikeforce bout.
Many would argue that Cormier won the first fight so decisively that a rematch is unwarranted and undesirable for fans. The AKA wrestling coach would have nothing to gain from another victory over Barnett.
UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt may not be a title contender, but his fans would certainly beg to differ. When Alistair Overeem was removed from the main event of UFC 146, Hunt fans rallied for the Super Samoan to fill the suddenly available spot.
With dynamite in his hands, technically magnificent striking and a chin that never ceases to impress, Hunt is a legitimate threat to the strikers of MMA like Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos. However, it is unlikely that he would do well against the wrestling-centric attack of Cormier.
The timeline is a little fishy. Hunt has still not booked a fight since pulling out of UFC 146 due to injury. It is unlikely that he would be prepared for competition on only six weeks notice, although the PRIDE star might be interested in jumping on board for such a major opportunity.
Cormier's original opponent was Frank Mir; a man who has more UFC bouts to his credit than any other heavyweight under contract. Perhaps his replacement should be someone with comparable experience.
Longtime UFC veteran Cheick Kongo has 17 fights under the Zuffa banner, and with experience against the likes of Cain Velasquez, Mirko Cro Cop and Mir himself, he is a solid candidate to fill in.
Kongo tested the chin of Velasquez in their meeting, and has hoped to avenge the decision loss he suffered in that UFC 99 contest. What better way to earn a rematch than by beating Cormier, an AKA teammate and friend.
What top-five heavyweight currently is healthy, licensed and unbooked for an upcoming fight? It's someone who originally was in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. It's a man who has defeated the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Fabricio Werdum is one of the most well rounded fighters than MMA has ever seen. With black belts in judo, muay thai and a second-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Vai Cavalo is dangerous no matter where a fight takes place.
Could the jiu-jitsu of Werdum counter-act the wrestling prowess of Cormier? Would his clinch striking be too much for the AKA fighter to overcome?
Werdum is my top candidate to face Cormier for multiple reasons. I think that he actually can pull off the win. He is healthy, available, and would have a lot to gain from a victory of this magnitude.