If you ever wanted a real life example of someone making the best of the opportunities presented to them, look no further than Daniel Cormier. Two years ago, Cormier was fighting on Strikeforce Challenger Series fight cards. Now on April 20, Cormier will make his UFC debut in the co-main event of the UFC on Fox 7 fight card, facing former UFC champion Frank Mir, all because he took an opportunity and made the most of it.
When the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix began in February 2011, Cormier was not one of the fighters selected to participate. In fact, he wasn’t even one of the alternates named to the event.
An injury to Shane Del Rosario and the promotion’s release of Alistair Overeem opened the door for Cormier. Instead of just peaking around the corner of that door, he kicked it wide open, knocking out Antonio Silva in the semifinals of the tournament and then going on to win the Grand Prix with a victory over former UFC champion Josh Barnett.
One additional fight later, a TKO over Dion Staring, and Cormier stands at 11-0 and is hearing his name mentioned as a possible future UFC champion in either the heavyweight or light heavyweight division. The road toward that goal will begin in San Jose when he meets Mir.
The two fighters have exchanged some trash talk in the time leading up to the fight, with Cormier telling Bleacher Report: “Frank Mir says I can't finish fights? Okay that's fine. My intention in this fight is not to finish Frank Mir. I'm going beat up on Frank Mir for 15 minutes and I'm going to make him stay in that cage with me. If Frank Mir gets finished, it will be because he quit."
Mir’s retort to Cormier, via MMAFighting, was “if he makes a mistake, then I'll take one of his limbs home."
Who will win?
Cormier feels the trash talk is all for naught, that it doesn’t really mean anything, “I’m not going to fight with emotion. There’s not going to be anything that Frank could ever say that’s going to make me fight a fight that’s more dangerous. I’ve stated time and time again that I think that there is only a select few individuals that can take the beatings that Frank has taken and still continue to be the way he is. I’m going to go out there and fight my fight”
As for the words of Mir, Cormier said, “I’m hoping it’s promotion, because if that’s the way his mind works that’s very disturbing.”
When talk of pursuing the light heavyweight title came up, Cormier said, “I’ve got such an important fight on my hands in this the next one, I’ve kind of strayed away from that thought process. I’m not really thinking about the 205-pound division right now. I’ve stated time and time again that I want to be the UFC champion and if that means going down to the weight below, then I would do that. But I have the toughest fight of my career in front of me in two weeks and I can’t focus on that right now. I’m confident that I can make the weight, but right now my sole focus is on Frank Mir and once we get past Frank Mir we can talk about that stuff.”
If Cormier does get past Mir, you can guarantee that one of the first questions he’s asked will be what’s next for him, as current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is a good friend and training partner of his. But like Cormier said, he first has to pass the test that Mir will present in San Jose.
**All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.