After waiting eight months to finally have an opponent to face on Strikeforce’s final fight card, Daniel Cormier took home his eleventh win and remains undefeated in his MMA career thus far. His next challenge is making his UFC debut against seasoned veteran and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir (16-6, MMA). In no way is Cormier looking past his first test in the UFC, but he told MMA Fight Corner on Friday night that he’s glad that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has finally taken notice of him.
While most of the MMA world including the odds makers considered DC’s last fight against Dion Staring an easy win for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champ, Cormier said for the first time in his career he felt a lot of anxiety.
“There were a lot of factors that played into that fight. First of all, the weather in Oklahoma City was just ridiculous, everybody got sick. I was feeling kind of down. That put some doubt on me,” Cormier said. “When I was in the back, for the first time in my career, I’m sitting in the back and my coach and my manager said he could sense that I was nervous. I was nervous because I had the nerves of actually having to perform well, the nerves of not knowing if I was going to get tired being that I was sick.
“It was a lot of things. I take a lot of pride in being in good shape for the fight and having good cardio. I didn’t want to go out there and gas whether it be due to sickness or anything and not fight to the level I’m used to fighting. I kind of had some nerves for the first time in my career and I think most of it came from the fact that I was kind of feeling a little under the weather.”
AKA trained Cormier will make his UFC debut in his training center’s hometown of San Jose, CA on April 20th against Frank Mir. The two were supposed to face off in Strikeforce last November, but Mir was injured and had to withdraw. It’s speculated that as long as his teammate Cain Velasquez currently holding onto the heavyweight strap, it’s unlikely that Cormier will go after a title fight at heavyweight. Prior to fighting Staring, Cormier told MMA Fight Corner that he may drop to 205 after a couple of fights at heavyweight. If Cormier and Jones can both keep on the winning track, maybe we’ll see them trade leather in a title fight.
In September last year, Cormier suggested in an interview with Bloody Elbow that he get a shot at coaching The Ultimate Fighter against Jones. Jones responded to ESPN immediately dismissing the challenge and insisting that Cormier was “relatively unknown” and was only trying to piggyback off of his popularity. “I’m not here to raise his stock,” Jones replied.
In a Q & A session with fans leading up to UFC on FOX 6, Jones finally acknowledged Cormier. “That guy’s going to have to come and get me. He’s been talking all this trash. I’m going to make him cut that weight,” Jones said in response to a bout with Cormier.
Daniel responded: “I think that’s great. I think over the course of this whole thing he never flat out said ‘I want to fight Daniel.’ Even whenever people would ask him things like ‘What about DC?’, he’d say things like I need to stop talking and get down to the weight. Then there was the follow up question ‘Is that a fight you’re interested in?’ and he would never just straight out say ‘Yeah I want to fight Daniel’ And today was probably the first time he said that. So I think that’s a very, very good thing.”
With a rivalry starting to brew between the two, Daniel said he has no animosity towards the 205 champ.
“I don’t dislike him. I just think that are obviously there are things about all kinds people that we can find that don’t necessarily rub us the right way. But, do I have a hatred for Jon? No. I think he’s great. He’s an unbelievable athlete. He’s a great champion, a guy that’s fought everybody, and I think it’d be a good fight. But is he my favorite person? Probably not.”
Even if fans do want to see that fight, Cormier simply said that the timing isn’t right for it now. His only goal right now is to stay focused on what’s directly ahead of him, a bout with Frank Mir.
“I was picking on [Jones], this was after I fought and I didn’t have anything else booked. Now I’m scheduled and to my knowledge, he’s scheduled and now he’s telling me ‘I wanna fight Daniel.’ Hey dude we’re both pretty busy, fighting a week apart, we got some issues. Frank Mir, that dude may beat me up man and all of this stuff could be for nothing. So I got to focus. I don’t know if he feels he has to focus fighting Chael. But I know I’ve got to focus otherwise I could get beat and I’m screwed.”
Jones has dominated ever since being crowned the youngest champion in UFC history and has repeatedly made those who face him look unprepared and outmatched. As for Jones’ upcoming match against Chael Sonnen, Cormier assessed what the outcome might be.
“I don’t think many guys can beat that dude [Jones], that’s the thing. I’ve said time and time again, regardless of what you feel about Jon Jones as a person, or as a fan, he’s unbelievable, he’s a great fighter and not many guys can beat him. I truly believe that, unbiased.”
Cormier later added that despite Chael’s wrestling pedigree, he doesn’t think Chael will be able to impose his will on Jones. Though Cormier admitted that Jones’ tenure as champion has been remarkable, he said there may be one person out there who can beat him.
“First off, I think you have to be on two Olympic teams, you have to be a six time US national champion, NCAA finalist and three-time All American and an undefeated MMA fighter. That seems like the perfect solution [to beating Jones].”