Since it's set that Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight belt in a rematch against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 177, surging contender Daniel Cormier has no choice but to wait patiently for a call.
And while Gustafsson's performance at UFC 165 solidified his status at the top of the division, Cormier's remarkable rise to power in his five-year career makes him the most viable contender at 205 pounds.
Cormier continued his tirade and won in business-like fashion in the co-main event Saturday at UFC 173, ragdolling sixth-ranked light heavyweight Dan Henderson to improve to 15-0 overall and 12-0 in Zuffa, LLC bouts.
Cormier wasted little time after the fight in stating his case for a title shot, saying the following during the UFC 173 post-fight press conference: "I think I’ve earned a title shot. I’ve got five top-10 wins, and I’m undefeated. I haven’t lost a round. I haven’t lost a fight in two weight classes. I won the Strikeforce grand prix. My resume speaks for itself.”
Cormier is in his prime and knows his time at the top is limited
Unlike the 27-year-old Gustafsson, the 35-year-old Cormier, who's only competed in his last two bouts at his natural weight of 205, genuinely believes he's beginning to reach his athletic potential.
And as an elite athlete, Cormier is cognizant of the fact that he can't maintain his current level of excellence as long as his counterparts in Gustafsson and Jones.
So if Cormier intends to dethrone Jones, the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, then he knows he needs to do it soon.
Jones would enjoy a 12.5" reach advantage over the former Olympic freestyle wrestler. The 26-year-old "Bones" also stands five inches taller than Cormier.
Gustafsson could use another tuneup fight
Obviously, Gustafsson's fans would scoff at the thought of "The Mauler" needing another win before securing a rematch with Bones.
But Gustafsson holds just one win over a current top-10 light heavyweight, Mauricio Rua, the eighth-ranked light heavyweight who has lost three of his last four bouts. And aside from Jones and Rua, The Mauler has only fought one current top-10 light heavyweight, teammate Phil Davis, who submitted Gustafsson at UFC 112.
Cormier, conversely, has defeated five top-10 ranked UFC fighters, four of whom were heavyweights. Before dropping to 205, Cormier earned lopsided wins over ranked heavyweight Antonio Silva (No. 4), Josh Barnett (No. 5), Roy Nelson (No. 9) and Frank Mir (No. 10).
Cormier presents a style matchup that we've yet to see against Bones
While Jones has fought and handled plenty of NCAA Division I wrestlers, none can claim to match the wrestling chops of former Oklahoma State University stalwart "DC."
Jones has topped decorated wrestlers like Vladimir Matyushenko, Rashad Evans, Ryan Bader and Chael Sonnen, among others, in his 15-fight UFC career, surrendering just one takedown in that time.
Still, DC's relentless style is more conducive for MMA, and he possesses a larger and more refined arsenal of techniques from his years of international experience.
Cormier, a two-time Olympian (2004 and 2008), has yet to surrender a takedown in 15 bouts. In his 12 bouts under the Zuffa, LLC umbrella, Cormier has amassed 18 takedowns. He's also scored 29 guard passes and allowed none in that span.
Cormier's also proven to have superior speed and footwork for a 205-pounder, another variable that makes him a steeper type of challenge than Jones' previous victims.
And as if Cormier doesn't have every other aspect of the game down, he and his coaching staff at the American Kickboxing Academy have also mastered the art of preparing for fights.
Every fight DC's in, it just seems like he knows precisely what his opponent's going to do before he does it. But let's not forget, that's the name of the game in MMA.
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