On April 20, 2013, Daniel Cormier will take on former heavyweight champion Frank Mir in San Jose, California at UFC on FOX 7. Cormier has had an interesting road to the UFC. He was a member of the USA Olympic Wrestling team in 2004 and 2008. Prior to the 2008 Olympics, he suffered kidney failure in his attempt to cut to 211 lbs. After his wrestling career was over, he took up MMA, training at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. After working his way up the ranks, he most recently managed to defeat Josh Barnett for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament Championship and followed that up with a TKO victory over Dion Staring.
As it stands now, Cormier is an undefeated, Olympic caliber wrestler, looking to make noise in the UFC Heavyweight division. There is only one problem: fellow wrestler and training partner Cain Velasquez holds the heavyweight belt. A win over Frank Mir would put Cormier in prime position to contend for they heavyweight belt. However, there are questions over whether or not his future is at heavyweight or light-heavyweight because Velasquez is champion.
Cormier would be ill-advised to cut to light-heavyweight just because Velasquez is the current champion at heavyweight. First, heavyweight is the most volatile division in all of MMA. The last UFC heavyweight champion to defend the belt more than once was Tim Sylvia. In all likelihood, Velasquez may not even hold the belt two or three fights down the line. Furthermore, I have voiced my opinion more than once that the idea that teammates won’t fight each other, even for championship belts, is ludicrous. In the sport of MMA there are no teams, that’s what makes it so unique. It’s just you and the other guy in the cage. The idea that Cormier would sacrifice a chance at glory simply because a guy he trains with holds the belt flies in the face of the entire idea of individual sports.
Cormier may be best suited to fight at heavyweight anyway. A drop to light-heavyweight could be damaging both to his career and his body. In terms of his fighting style, he is able to use his hand-speed to stay on his feet and outbox his opponent at heavyweight. At light-heavyweight, he may not have the speed advantage because his opponents will be smaller and faster. As a result, a striker like Alexander Gustafsson, who is able to use footwork and jabs to stay away from Cormier’s wrestling, could be a tough matchup for Cormier. At heavyweight, there aren’t many guys who can match up with his combination of speed and wrestling ability.
It would also be extremely sad to see Cormier potentially hurt himself attempting to cut to 205 lbs. Obviously he knows his body better than anybody but considering he suffered from kidney failure cutting to 211 lbs., it seems odd that Cormier is ready to cut even more weight. He does have a good amount of body fat and could probably diet close to 205 lbs. so that the actual weight cut wouldn’t be too extreme. But either way, it would be devastating to Cormier’s career if he suffered a similar setback to the 2008 Olympics. Cormier’s body-type and skillset are most effective at heavyweight. He should stay there, keep winning fights, and challenge for the title.
Photo Credit – Mark D. Smith – USA Today Sports