Undefeated (9-0) Strikeforce Heavyweight Daniel Cormier will face what will undoubtedly be his toughest test to date in his young mixed martial arts (MMA) career as he takes on Josh Barnett this Saturday (May 19, 2012) in the finale of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler, will look to derail the red-hot Barnett (who is on a nine-fight win streak himself) and earn the grand prix title in a tournament which at one time had fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem participating in it.
The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) trained fighter stepped up as a reserve and replaced "The Reem" after the former K-1 kickboxing champion was yanked from the tournament by the powers that be over at Zuffa, only to sign with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) two months later.
Now, looking to make the most of his opportunity, the wrestling prodigy looks to take out one of the most seasoned veterans in the heavyweight division and earn his one-way ticket to the UFC, though he may have to fight once more in Strikeforce should he prove victorious this Saturday night.
Appearing on "The MMA Hour," Cormier, looks ahead to his showdown with Barnett this weekend in San Jose and says "The Warmaster" will be making a huge mistake if he's basing "DC's" potential as a challenge based solely on his limited amount of fights.
Check it out:
"Guys have to be confident, you know, they have to be confident in their ability and what their game-plan is and in himself. If Josh didn't feel that way, then he would really be doing himself an injustice. You know what? He has to come out there and prove it. Listen, I fought nine times, yes, but I have had tons of fights. I wrestled at the highest level and I know when we think of Jon Jones and some of these guys that are champions with few wins we think, Oh, well Jon's a freak, he's the exception. But, Mauricio Shogun Rua, probably didn't expect him to be ready to be UFC champion, or Rampage Jackson or the rest of the guys that he has beaten up to this point. If he is basing that assessment on the fact that I haven't fought as he did, then he is making a huge mistake."
Though Cormier only has nine professional MMA bouts under his belt, he says his past wrestling experience has prepared him for the highest level of competition and says he has some new 'tricks' that Barnett may not have ever seen and will not be prepared for:
"I do what I have been training. As I said before when I fought Bigfoot Silva, I do what I have done my entire life. I have won a lot. I've won at every level and competed with the best at every level. So I just have to go out and do what I'm trained to do, do what I'm used to doing, and that's competing hard, competing smart and getting my hand raised. History shows that I am pretty good at that, I find ways to win. Going back to him saying I'm just not prepared for that, well, there's some tricks that I have. There's some things that I know that he's not prepared for, that he hasn't seen before. What's Josh Barnett going to do when he has to fight from his back or stand in front of me the whole time where he can't get on top. Those are things that he is not used to."
What's your take Maniacs, can Cormier pull off what many would consider an upset and defeat the much more experienced Barnett? Or will "The Warmaster" reach into his bag of old tricks and show the young fighter a few things of his own on his way to his own victory?