It's been a long time coming, but Daniel Cormier‘s UFC arrival is imminent.
The former Olympian has been on the cusp of coming to the UFC for most of the last year after it was announced that the heavyweight division in Strikeforce was being disbanded following the end of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, plus one additional “super fight” for the winner.
Cormier won the Grand Prix by beating Josh Barnett in May, but since that time he's been on the sidelines just waiting to fight, and then following the conclusion of that, he will move over to the UFC.
On Jan. 12, Cormier finally fulfills his Strikeforce commitment when he faces Dion Staring in Oklahoma, and then he will move over to the UFC's heavyweight division later in 2013. Cormier is obviously excited to finally make the move, but he knows he still has to get through Staring and then he can eye his first match-up in the Octagon.
Once he gets that first fight, he wants to stay very, very busy for the entire year.
“I look forward to getting in the cage early January, and the other day I got tweeted that Frank Mir said he would love to fight me in the UFC. So I'm hoping that I can make my UFC debut around March and if I get through that fight not too hurt, I'd like to fight again in May or June, and then I'll fight in September and then I'll fight again at the end of the year. I'm a wrestler, we wrestle every week, so if I can get four or five fights (in 2013), that would be great for me,” Cormier told MMAWeekly Radio over the weekend.
Frank Mir was supposed to fight Cormier in Strikeforce back in November, but suffered an injury in training that forced him out of their bout. That entire card was eventually scrapped, but Cormier is still happy to face Mir, this time on his turf in the UFC.
One other factor that will play a role in Cormier's future in the UFC is an upcoming bout at UFC 155 when his close friend and teammate Cain Velasquez fights for the UFC heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos. Cormier and Velasquez have worked side-by-side for years, and it's no secret neither would be jumping at the chance to face the other in the Octagon.
Cormier says for now it's not an issue. He's got a fight on Jan. 12, plus he'd love to settle things with Frank Mir for his first fight in the Octagon, and then after that it becomes “wait and see” what happens.
“Obviously, it plays a part in my career, but not right now. I've got to fight this guy Dion and I'm hoping to fight Frank when I get in the UFC, so I've got some time to make some decisions, but obviously it does have some bearing,” said Cormier.
“As I've always said, Cain and I fighting is a ways away. I'm a heavyweight, so Cain has to beat this guy dos Santos, Cain has to beat Alistair Overeem if he's able to get past Bigfoot Silva. So there's a lot of things that would have to happen for Cain and I to fight, to even becoming a reality. It does have some bearing, but not immediately. I'm going to fight at heavyweight when I get to the UFC because I want to fight Frank Mir.”
Cormier and Velasquez, along with their coaches and trainers at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), have discussed the possibility that at some point down the road they may be in a position where one would be champion and the other would be the top contender. It's not a scenario either are looking forward to confronting, but the reality is that it could happen in the next year.
“We all talk about this time and time again with the options of going down a weight division; there's options and we discuss them all. We discuss the benefits to whether we fight or not, we discuss the benefits of me going down, we discuss everything as a family. That's one thing we always do at AKA, we always leave it all out on the table so there are no secrets,” said Cormier.
“We have the same management team, Zinkin Entertainment. We have the same coaches, Bob (Cook), Jav (Mendes), Leandro (Vieira), all our teammates; so it would just be very difficult. Us fighting would not be ideal in any way, shape or form, so we would probably try to avoid that as best we can.”
It looks like at least upon his arrival in the UFC, Cormier is resigned to sticking around the heavyweight division. If he's ever faced with the reality of fighting his friend and teammate Cain Velasquez, then all of the options will be placed on the table and they will decide as a team what's the best move going forward.
The move right now is for Cormier to stay focused on Dion Staring and his final fight in Strikeforce on Jan. 12.