COMMENTARY | Daniel Cormier has made it clear that he wants a crack at the UFC light heavyweight title despite being ranked No. 2 on the UFC heavyweight list.
Obviously, the reason that Cormier has been considering a drop to the 205 division has much more to do with not fighting current champion Cain Velasquez than it does wanting to fight Jon Jones. Nevertheless, Cormier recently confirmed with FUEL TV's Ariel Helwani that should he get past Roy Nelson at UFC 166, he will ask to "cut the line" for an immediate shot at the 205 title against either champion Jon Jones or his UFC 165 opponent Alexander Gustafsson.
But does he deserve to cut the line?
First and foremost, Cormier has to get past the heavy hands of Roy Nelson, which is no small feat. But even with a win against Nelson, does that mean the AKA fighter should move in front of Glover Teixeira for a title shot?
Despite being the No. 2-ranked heavyweight, Cormier should have to earn his stripes against a division that represents a completely different challenge to the Strikeforce heavyweight world Grand Prix winner. A fight against a top light heavyweight should be in order before giving Cormier a title shot. As a matter of fact, forcing fighters that shift weight classes to face a top contender before getting a crack at the championship should be required.
As of right now, Cormier is a very good heavyweight, but that doesn't mean that the drop in weight automatically earns him a hall pass directly to the champion's office. Only a current champion in another weight class should get an automatic title shot. If Jose Aldo retains his title over Chan Sung Jung and decides to move up to lightweight, there should be no wait for him to face the winner of Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis' upcoming showdown. Champions have earned that right. However, if you aren't a champion, you should at least fight a top 3 contender in order to prove your worth. Win and the shot is yours; lose and fall to the back of the line.
In this case, if Daniel Cormier defeats Nelson and opts to move to light heavyweight, a bout against the winner of Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader or the winner of Phil Davis vs. Lyoto Machida makes the most sense. We really need to see just how Cormier would fare against fellow light heavyweights before he is granted a shot at a Jon Jones, who is currently the best pound for pound fighter in the world. And considering his lackluster showing against Frank Mir, the former Olympic wrestler hasn't exactly wowed his way to be able to cut in front of the rest of the 205 division.
But, even still, Cormier's heavyweight resume isn't stellar enough to automatically score the next shot against the winner of Cain Velasquez-Junior Dos Santos 3, should he want it. He'd have to score a knockout against Roy Nelson -- who has only been stopped once in his entire career -- before anyone can argue that he's earned either title shot.
Over the past couple of years, we've seen Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber (twice) both lose when dropping weight to take on the champion. Chael Sonnen moved up to face Jon Jones and was promptly annihilated for his troubles. BJ Penn lost both of his attempts to jump from lightweight to become welterweight champion at the hands of Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre. The only person to win in an immediate title opportunity after moving weight classes in the UFC was Randy Couture. And, well, Daniel Cormier is no Randy Couture.
The bottom line is that all of this weight class hopping to an immediate title shot has to stop. Too many fighters are getting line passes without having to prove themselves in the weight class only to lose. If this practice is put in play, perhaps fighters will reconsider transitioning. But something has to be done to stop everyone for asking to "cut the line."
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.
You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
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- Martial Arts
- Daniel Cormier
- Roy Nelson
- Jon Jones