Daniel Cormier became the #1 contender to the UFC's heavyweight title this past year. Only problem is, his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez is the champion.
With fighting a friend and teammate not an option for Cormier, the two-time Olympic wrestler has chosen to drop down a weight class to light heavyweight. His first opponent at 205 pounds is former champion and friend of Cormier's, Rashad Evans.
The two will face-off on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas at UFC 170. During a recent media scrum, Cormier talked about how he feels so far at his lighter weight.
"I feel better. My cardio feels better," he said.
"I feel like I can go harder, longer than I was before. It didn't take me as long to get in shape in the training camp, because I'm lighter. Normally, it would take me a little bit more time to get going."
One thing Cormier has missed in his training camp thus far is the presence of Velasquez, who is currently out of commission with a shoulder injury. Cormier says that it has been a challenge to get work in without his main sparring partner but that the champ has still made his presence felt.
"It's been tough not having him in the gym but you know what, he actually comes still to watch my sparring and give advice whenever I'm training," Cormier explained.
"But I've got some great partners, man. The camp was going to have to change a little bit anyway because of who I'm fighting. Cain doesn't really present the Rashad Evans type of look. I've got a guy named Davin Clark who is a 185 pounder but he's about Rashad's size - a little taller."
Though Cormier's ultimate goal is to become the UFC light heavyweight champion, he believes that Evans is, in many ways, a tougher opponent for him than the division's champion Jon Jones. For one reason, Cormier and Evans have trained together before so the American Kickboxing Academy fighter knows that he won't have the element of surprise over "Suga."
"I just think that, because I've trained with Rashad before. You know, he's felt me before," he said.
"He's got a different set of skills than Jones, obviously. I think Rashad's actually a little more difficult to take down, for me than it would be [to take down] a guy with longer limbs. I don't mind wrestling a guy with long limbs. I think it works to my advantage because I can get to their legs. Rashad doesn't kick as much. Kicking actually feeds your opponent the leg. Jon kicks more so that's easier to grab take downs. Rashad, you know, is just a more dynamic type of fighter. In terms of one-punch knockout power, he has more than Jones does."