Josh Barnett: Daniel Cormier's wrestling background is not enough to stay at the top

Jun 15,2008; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (blue) defeated Damion Hahn in the US Olympic Trials Freestyle 96kg match at Thomas & Mack Center making the Olympic team for the Bejing Olympics. Cormier qualified for the Bejing Olympics .Mandatory Credit: Marlene Karas-US PRESSWIRE

Before next weekend's Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title fight between Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC 146, which features all 265-pounders on the main card, there will be another important clash going down in the land of the giants as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament, which began over a year ago, finally reaches its conclusion.

In the finale, Josh Barnett will take on late entry Daniel Cormier, who was a last-minute replacement for Alistair Overeem after "The Reem" dropped out of the tournament in late 2011.

Cormier defeated Jeff Monson in a tournament reserve match and then proceeded to demolish Antonio Silva by brutal first round knockout to earn his place in the final. Barnett, on the other hand, breezed through Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov by submission to secure his spot.

The two men who are the sole remaining heavyweights in Strikeforce, will meet inside the Hexagon this Saturday night (May 19, 2012) in San Jose, California to see who will be crowned the tournament champion, and for all intents and purposes, earn promotion bragging rights.

Though the winner will likely remain in Strikeforce for one more fight, it is very possible that both men will receive UFC contracts down the line -- even Josh Barnett -- who's had his differences with the powers that be over at Zuffa in the past. UFC President Dana White has stated he would have no issue bringing Barnett back into the UFC ranks, as long as they continue to play nice with each other.

Appearing on The MMA Hour, Barnett talks about a possible jump to the UFC and gives his assessment on his upcoming opponent, Daniel Cormier.

Check it out:

"For me, it's not always about whether I can get in there. It's also about whether we are amenable to the offer. It takes two to make these things work. Sometimes you just don't find that common ground. That's difficult, but that is just something that happens in any aspect of business. But I'd love to be in the UFC, beating up all their guys and being the best heavyweight in the world, which I believe I am. So why wouldn't I want to be there?"

Before "The Warmaster" can look forward to ‘beating up' the UFC's heavyweights, he has a tall order ahead of him in San Jose as he will lock horns with former Olympian Daniel Cormier, an athlete he says he has tremendous respect for.

However, Barnett isn't convinced is ready for the big time just yet:

"I think it's too early to say that about him. I think, give him some more time. Plus, I think he's fast-tracking. With his inherent athletic ability and his wrestling background, it allows him to do that. In the current MMA landscape, being a good athlete or, I should say, being a great athlete, because he was an Olympian with an extensive wrestling background, that can take you very far, very quickly. I don't believe that that alone has enough staying power to be at the top, but he's got time to acquire all the things that will be necessary to be a long-standing figure at the top of the heavyweight heap. With just the skills that he has now, he's proven that he can take just about anybody out when given the opportunity to get in the cage with them. I also know that he's smart. I know he's working on his submission game. I know he's working on his hands and his feet and becoming a more complete fighter. But he hasn't really had the great luxury to open up his skills all the way and go into the areas that are likely the most difficult for him."

Though he only has two and a half years in the MMA game, Cormier has proven he is indeed a force to be reckoned with, going undefeated in his young career.

Heading into the next couple of weeks, MMA's elite heavyweights will be on full display and will set up some interesting match-ups for the upcoming months with Cormier and Barnett kicking off the action this Saturday night.

Who's your pick Maniacs? The much more experienced veteran in Josh Barnett -- or the accomplished wrestler in Cormier?

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