Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier burst onto the mixed marital arts (MMA) scene a little over three years ago and has quickly become one of the elite heavyweight fighters on the planet.
Cormier (10-0) transitioned into the sport from a successful career in amateur wrestling where he dominated on all levels, even competing in the 2004 Olympic Games.
The heavyweight contender's road from amateur wrestling to MMA was a long one, and as promotion for his upcoming Jan. 12, 2013 fight against Dion Staring at Strikeforce: "Marquardt vs. Saffiedine," Cormier was featured in a promo video by Showtime Sports titled, "I Am a Fighter," where he told a story about his athletic excellence.
In the promo, Cormier explains his unique path to prominence in the world of amateur wrestling and how competition drives him no matter what he's doing.
"My name is Daniel Cormier. I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. When you're talking about becoming an all-American and your goal is to become an all-American, you're kind of setting the bar a little low for yourself if you aspire to do great things in wrestling. To become an Olympic champion is to reach the pinnical of our sport.
My path to become an Olympian was different. June 2003 I had a 3-month-old daughter pass. Her mom was driving with her down in Texas, they got hit by an 18-wheeler and she was the only casualty. Three month old beautiful baby girl, it was just a sad thing. I was supposed to wrestle in the final trials for the world team a week followed, obviously I postponed it. I locked myself in my room, just not doing anything, you know? Just laying there. I wasn't worried about anything else, the world was just going to pass me by and my coach John Smith calls me one day and he goes, ‘Look, you've got to try and get back on the horse, bud. You got to try and get in here and work through this because you're not going to give away this opportunity.' I went to the gym and started training for this competition and in the first match I went in there, wrestled hard, but he beat me, you know. So now I'm facing an uphill battle. Having to win two matches in a row to make this team. But then you've got to remember a lot of presume because I'm telling myself I have to do well for my daughter. I go into the match I pin him. So you know, going into the third match it's all or nothing. I go back to the corner and my coach tells me ‘Daniel, it's time to cowboy up. Do not come off this mat without winning this match.' I score a point with 20 seconds left in the third period to tie it, won the match in overtime."
I went from winning wrestling matches here in the country where I was like, ‘Maybe I can win, maybe I can get this done.' To going into matches thinking there's just no way I can lose. And to this day that is the proudest match I've ever had in my entire life because I that moment, I had won for my kid. It was unbelievable.
My name is Daniel Cormier, and I'm a fighter."
Strikeforce: "Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" goes down Jan. 12, 2013, from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. Along with the Cormier vs. Staring heavyweight co-main event, a welterweight championship contest serves as the headliner as Nate Marquardt looks to defend his belt against No. 1 contender Tarec Saffiedine.