The last few months for Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier have been filled with disappointment and displeasure because no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get a fight.
Cormier was originally scheduled to meet former UFC champion Frank Mir in November for his final fight in Strikeforce in what should have been a very interesting crossover match-up. Unfortunately, Mir suffered an injury and had to drop off the card.
Offers then went out to two more UFC heavyweights – Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione – and both turned down the short-notice fight with Cormier. Not long after that the entire card was scrapped.
So when Cormier finally got the call for a fight on Jan. 12 he was elated and it really didn't matter to him who the opponent was, he just wanted to get back in action. Admittedly, there was a look of confusion on just about everybody's face when the name on the other end of the bout agreement was journeyman fighter and Strikeforce newcomer Dion Staring.
A mainstay of primarily European fight cards, Staring is a 34-year-old Dutch competitor who literally came out of nowhere to sign up for the fight against Cormier.
Staring will enter the night as a huge underdog with just about the world picking against him, but Cormier is approaching this match-up with a whole other idea of what he's about to face in the cage. Dion Staring said yes when a list of other top fighters, including two UFC heavyweights, said thanks, but no thanks.
“No one expected it to be Dion, but that's what makes Dion such a dangerous opponent. Because where as all these other guys said ‘no' for whatever reason – Matt (Mitrione) said it was because of his wrestling, it's not good enough and that's my biggest strength, I don't know why Cheick Kongo said no, Frank Mir got hurt – but what makes Dion so dangerous is he probably said yes right away,” Cormier told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“It took no convincing. They offered this guy the fight and he said yes. In his mind there's a belief somewhere that he can beat me.”
That personal belief could make Staring a very dangerous opponent because he enters this fight with absolutely nothing to lose.
Staring isn't a fighter who has been biting and scratching and clawing just to hopefully one day get a shot in the UFC, or even reach the pinnacle of Strikeforce before now. He was just a fighter who was making a living fighting, but now he could pull off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history if he can beat Cormier.
The former two-time Olympian is well aware of what Staring brings to the table, and how he's the most dangerous of opponents because no one expects him to win.
Meanwhile, everybody is already talking about Cormier fighting in the UFC, facing Frank Mir next, and possibly challenging UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the future.
Looking past any opponent can be a big mistake and that's something Cormier refuses to do, but beyond just winning, he wants to win big. Cormier wants to go to the UFC with a one-sided victory over Staring because if he can't put him away or somehow has to squeak out a split decision, it will seem like a loss.
“I have a responsibility to myself and my team to actually do what I'm supposed to do, and do it in a way that I don't hurt myself in the process. There's many ways I can actually go into this fight and come out losing even if I don't necessarily lose,” said Cormier.
“I've got to go out there and do what I'm supposed to do, but do it in a way that I expect and like my coaches and team expect. I've got to go in there and perform. There's a lot of ways to lose without actually losing.”
Losing isn't an option for Daniel Cormier and he hasn't experienced it yet in his MMA career. He doesn't plan to start on Jan. 12, and he doesn't intend on Dion Staring getting the best of him in any way, shape or form.