In sports, mid-30s is the beginning of the end. As a rule, guys enter their prime around 28 or 29, get a few real good years punched, and then fade into bolivian.
Sure, there are exceptions, but very few men hold their athletic prowess past 34 or 35 and even if they do it doesn’t happen for long.
And so it is that everyone’s favourite heavyweight hype train, Daniel Cormier, may be left wondering where things would have gone if he hadn’t been stranded on the sinking ship Strikeforce for much of his pro career.
Undefeated with an Olympic pedigree and no visible holes in his game, Cormier has gone from tournament alternate in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to the champion of that tournament and the guy that most people want to see in the UFC ahead of anyone else out there.
But he’s 33, and still owes a fight to Strikeforce—one that won’t take place before January. That means that, more than likely, when his inevitable UFC debut takes place he’ll be 34 with 11 pro fights to his name.
It’s hard not to be concerned that his best years might be passing him by.
Many of the fighters who have blazed the trail for fizzling in their mid-30s are guys who have had dozens of fights though, so there’s that. The best examples—Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson, Chuck Liddell—were taking heavy punishment from the earliest days of the sport.
Cormier will be in low double-digits for career fights, and barring injury the potential is there for him to make some hay while the sun is shining throughout 2013 and 2014. There has to be some concern that a lifetime of wrestling at a high level and training with the killers at American Kickboxing Academy may soften him up, but for now it’s about seeing how far he can climb in the UFC when he finally arrives.
In the event that said climb isn’t very far, that it does end up being stifled by injury or, heaven forbid, more contract conundrums with Strikeforce, people are going to wonder about Cormier.
They’ll wonder how a guy with so much obvious talent and so many dream matchups never got to fulfill what everyone aspired to for him.
They’ll wonder how, in a world where Nick Diaz and Alistair Overeem were such easy acquisitions for the UFC, Cormier could become an elusive golden goose.
They’ll wonder how he would have matched up against Junior dos Santos and other high-level heavyweights on the UFC roster, just as much as they’ll wonder how he would have looked against the unsinkable Jon Jones had he decided to cut a few pounds.
In general, if Daniel Cormier doesn’t jump ship to the UFC soon, the stewed brains of all involved will be summarized in one question: what might have been?
May it never come to that.