In one of the more intriguing match-ups of last night's (June 18, 2011) Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" main card, a young gun took on a serious veteran as Daniel Cormier and Jeff Monson battled for heavyweight supremacy.
Cormier and Monson were both the respective wrestling coaches of the American Kickboxing Academy and American Top Team, but this bout would be spent on its feet for 15 straight minutes.
Despite being a two-time Olympian in wrestling, Cormier never even attempted a takedown and was content to showcase his ever-improving striking.
Find out how he was able to frustrate Monson with his combinations after the jump.
It was clear that Daniel Cormier wanted to put on a striking clinic from the opening bell.
He stepped into his strikes with confidence and launched combinations that connected on Monson's face, even mixing in the occasional kick.
It was his punches that did all the damage, though.
Monson was older, slower and not nearly as athletically gifted to be able to keep up with Cormier in the striking department. Cormier repeatedly tagged "The Snowman" but never could land the big strike to finish the fight.
He had Monson hurt a few times but the cagey veteran wisely recovered and would clinch to clear the cobwebs. It was the in clinch that Monson had his success. He would score a big right hand off the break every time they separated from the clinch but his counter-striking was just a step too slow to be effective anywhere else.
Monson's head was cracked at one point when both men ducked down and accidentally head-butted each other, but he hung in there despite being clearly out-classed by the younger, faster fighter.
For Jeff, this fight was just further proof that he can't compete against the best heavyweights in the world anymore. There's nothing wrong with that considering he's 40 years old. He's stated that he'd be interested in dropping down to 205 pounds if he could contend in that division but he's a few years too late.
If he does drop to 205, he'll likely face a premier guy coming off a loss in the light heavyweight division. Perhaps Ranatu Sobral? That would be an interesting match-up of grapplers with respectable but not other-worldly striking.
For Daniel Cormier, he continues his impressive rise up the Strikeforce heavyweight ranks. This was clearly the biggest win of his career and he passed his toughest test with flying colors. For those of you concerned that he's abandoned his wrestling roots, have no fear. If he steps in the cage with a better striker than himself, he'll go right back to his ground and pound roots with his incredible wrestling.
Perhaps Strikeforce will continue its steady progression and pit Cormier against fellow alternate fighter Chad Griggs. Another possibility would be the original match-up against another top prospect in Shane del Rosario if the undefeated fighter has begun to recover from his car accident. He's also pushed himself to the top of the list as a potential injury replacement if someone can't continue in the Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Whatever the case, the future is bristling with possibilities for the very talented American Kickboxing Academy fighter.
So Maniacs, what did you think? Could Cormier step in and compete successfully in the Heavyweight Grand Prix? Should Monson seriously consider a drop to 205?