UFC: Can Daniel Cormier Be a Star in the Promotion?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) fights against Roy Nelson (blue gloves) in their heavyweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Daniel Cormier is a funny customer.

He's an undefeated heavyweight at a time (and in a sport) where that's not a routine commodity.

He's an Olympian wrestler with the type of track record and character that most people could only dream of.

He can talk a little trash when he wants, and it's usually more clever than the standard "Imma beat that dude bad" that's shown up on more than one UFC Countdown special.

He's made the deft career decision to drop a weight class, where he'll be met by longtime contender Rashad Evans. Pass that test, and he'll fight Jon Jones for the 205-pound title at some point in 2014.

And yet people don't really seem to care that much.

There isn't even really a great reason for it. They just don't seem to care.

Coming off of his surprise win in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix a couple of years ago, Cormier had hype. He'd walked into that tournament as an alternate and romped to the crown, starching Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and trouncing Josh Barnett.

But long delays between fights and uninteresting showings when he has been in the cage have hurt his marketability. It isn't as easy to sell Cormier as it was before he was in the UFC, which is both backwards and bewildering.

The encouraging part, though? Jones being on the horizon. Many have tipped Cormier as the last great hope to dethrone the light heavyweight king, particularly if Swedish slugger Alex Gustafsson can't get it right on his second try sometime this year.

It's a fight that's interesting because of Cormier's skills and how they mesh with those of the champion, and also because the two genuinely seem to dislike one another. Jones has come to embrace his heel persona, and Cormier has proved he has enough silver in his tongue to ruffle his feathers.

In terms of a recipe for stardom, a bout between Jones and Cormier places all the ingredients on the table. It's up to those two to mix them all up and throw them in the oven.

If that mix goes awry for Cormier thoughbe it in his lead-up to a Jones fight, his performance once he gets there or should he blow it before he ever gets that chance by losing to Evansthat's basically the end of the line.

Not for him as a fighter, but definitely for him as a draw.

He's simply not going to have a better chance at a star-making turn than in a fight with Jones, and turning 35 this year doesn't give him much time for second chances anyway.

Thus, that's what it boils down to for Daniel Cormier in his quest for MMA stardom: Get your fight with Jon Jones, or fade into bolivian. It's not about his perfect record or his Olympic background or his personality, it's about getting to Jones, getting that spotlight and getting that cheddar.

That's not an easy road. But if being a star was easy, everyone would do it.