Undefeated (11-0) Heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier will finally make his highly-anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut this weekend (April 20, 2013) when he takes on Frank Mir in the UFC on Fox 7 co-main event at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
Many consider Mir, a former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, as the stiffest mixed martial arts (MMA) test for Cormier after "DC" tore through the competition in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion.
The former 2008 Olympic Wrestling captain, however, doesn't agree.
Cormier feels that just because all of his competition thus far has been outside of the Octagon, it doesn't necessarily make Mir a step up when compared to several of his recent opponents (sans Dion Staring, of course). In other words, unless he is fighting Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos, there aren't too many guys out there today who are better Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett.
He explains (via Bloody Elbow):
"You know, I don't feel like it's that much of a step up, honestly. I don't know if that's just my respect for Josh Barnett and Bigfoot Silva, but those guys are really good. I don't think many guys are a step up from those two. Bigfoot just beat Alistair Overeem, and Josh has long been considered one of the best in the world, and still is, in my opinion. I think anytime you start thinking about taking a step up from Josh or Bigfoot, you can only look to Cain for that position, or maybe Junior dos Santos. Really, those two are the only ones that are better than the rest of the guys in the division."
Cormier makes a valid point.
Silva will next challenge for the heavyweight strap against reigning division champion Velasquez at UFC 160, an opportunity he earned after knocking out Alistair Overeem at UFC 156 in Feb. 2013. Barnett, meanwhile, has been -- and still remains -- one of the best big men in the sport despite his unwillingness to make a deal with Zuffa.
Cormier defeated Silva and Barnett in consecutive bouts, knocking out "Bigfoot" in the first round in 2011 and then going on to win a unanimous decision over "Warmaster" eight months later to capture the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix title, which snapped Barnett's eight-fight win streak in the process.
Regardless, a fight against a seasoned veteran such as Mir is far from a walk in the park.
Indeed, if Cormier can get through the longtime veteran this weekend it would not only cement his status as an heavyweight fighter, but also silence many critics who feel the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained fighter has yet to defeat some of the best in the sport.
Even if "DC" begs to differ.