Sun Sep 11 12:41am EDT
Daniel Cormier doesn't look like the prototypical new age, massive heavyweight, but he proved Saturday that athleticism and technique will usually beat the giants of the division. Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler, flashed excellent boxing in dropping Antonio "Big Foot" Silva twice in less than four minutes. On the second occasion, Silva couldn't recover and referee Greg Franklin jumped in to save him at 3:56 of the first round at U.S Bank Arena in Cincinnati, OH.
Cormier, a late replacement for the deposed Alistair Overeem, advanced to the finals of the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix. The 5-foot-11, 247-pound Cormier was ecstatic seconds after the fight.
"It was great man," Cormier shouted to the crowd during his postfight interview. "I fought one of the top five heavyweights in the world and knocked him out. Give me some respect now!"
Even with his wrestling background, Cormier has constantly had to address the issue of dropping down to light heavyweight. But Saturday was a prime example of what a skilled heavyweight can do against one of the big boys of the division. Fighting out San Jose's American Kickboxing Academy, Cormier's growth as a fighter was on full display. His hands were relaxed from the start and he threw punches in bunches.
Silva is a massive 6-foot-4 and probably fights in excess of 280 pounds on fight night. Against Cormier, he looked like a statue. The smaller fighter worked effectively behind a double jab. Just 45 seconds into the fight, Cormier dropped Silva with a well-placed overhand right. Silva stayed on his back and Cormier wisely chose to stay out of his guard to get the fight back on the feet.
The next two minutes looked like Cormier was putting on a boxing clinic. Silva was too slow to defend himself. He nearly went down again after getting drilled by a left hook with 3:30 left. A little over two minutes later, Cormier dropped the hammer on Silva with a beautiful three-punch combo.
"I hit him with the jab, left hook, uppercut," said Cormier, speaking of the finishing flurry. "He's no Cain Velasquez and that's who I train with everyday."
Velasquez, the UFC heavyweight champ, is the No. 1 big man in the world right now. If Cormier truly hangs in the gym with that beast, we know why he's so good. Cormier landed an amazing 26-of-38 (68 percent) strikes. He delivered this upset as a plus-125 underdog.
Overeem, the pre-tourney favorite and former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, was dumped from the tournament because an injury and management squabble with Zuffa, the parent company of both Strikeforce and UFC. That dispute was settled this week and Overeem was signed to a new deal with the UFC. He faces Brock Lesnar on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas at UFC 141.
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