This Saturday night (Feb. 22, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Daniel Cormier and Patrick Cummins will go to war in the co-main event of UFC 170, airing live on pay-per-view (PPV) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight was hastily thrown together after former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans injured his knee in training, leaving Cormier scrambling to find an opponent. "Suga" and "DC" were rumored to have their fight rescheduled for UFC 172 in April, but that was squashed even before news broke that Evans would be on the sidelines for six months with knee surgery.
Cormier was last seen dismantling Roy "Big Country" Nelson at UFC 166. Although it wasn't his most exciting performance ever, it was nonetheless effective. Cormier now makes the cut down to 205 pounds in an effort to avoid facing his good friend and training partner, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
"DC" was primed to earn a title shot by defeating Evans, but now he's in a lose-lose situation against the unknown (until this week) "Durkin," who was a former training partner of Cormier.
Working as a barista in a coffee shop prior to this fight, Cummins has the opportunity of a lifetime. He's undefeated at 4-0 in mixed martial arts (MMA), but his mouth has been building him up a lot more than any of his actual fights. Cummins claims he made Cormier "cry" in wrestling practice, and it appears that he's poked the bear one too many times.
"Durkin" has made this fight personal, and that is definitely not a good thing for him. But he can't lose, and he may be in it for the paycheck anyhow. Let's take a look at the keys to what should be an easy victory for Cormier.
Record: 13-0 overall, 2-0 UFC
Key Wins: Roy Nelson (UFC 166), Frank Mir (UFC on FOX 7), Josh Barnett (Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier), Antonio Silva (Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: There aren't many aspects of MMA that can't be considered Cormier's keys to victory here. This is a gross mismatch, one of the worst the UFC has ever put together (Randy Couture vs. James Toney is probably worse). Despite all the hype, trash talk, and buzz about Cummins supposedly "breaking" Cormier in the wrestling room, this isn't wrestling.
This is a fight, and Cummins hasn't faced an opponent who can even be grouped in the same stratosphere as Cormier.
Cormier and Cummins were training partners when "DC" was preparing for the Olympics, and "Durkin" was brought in to help him prepare. That already signifies that he wasn't on Cormier's level, a trend set to continue in the cage on Saturday night.
Judging from what we've seen from Cormier in his only two UFC bouts, he'll most likely use his wrestling to bully Cummins up against the cage and tee off with short shots. His kickboxing has evolved to a very high level under the tutelage of Javier Mendez and American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), so that's where his massive advantage is going to lie.
Cummins may be able to hang with Cormier in a pure wrestling match, but his stand-up is going to be light years apart from Cormier's. Don't be surprised to see "DC" knock out "Durkin" in the first round.
Record: 4-0 overall, 0-0 UFC
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Cummins, a former NCAA Division I All-American and national runner-up at Penn State, has been granted the chance of a lifetime. He can shock the world and create a real-life "Rocky" story by upending the massively favored Cormier.
It's just highly unlikely.
With Cormier as high as a -1500 favorite, the odds are that "Durkin" gets dumped early on in the bout.
For his part, he's talked a big game and brought out a ton of seemingly personal examples that one would think would be left in the wrestling room. But, this is the fight game, and Cummins is trying to make a name for himself.
He's been doing just that for the past week, and now it's time to prove his skills inside the Octagon.
Since getting lucky can't be considered an actual key to victory, Cummins could purportedly lock Cormier up in a submission. He won't be afraid to grapple with Cormier because he knows "DC's" tendencies from hours of training.
That doesn't mean he can out-wrestle the former Olympian, however.
Cummins has two technical knockout finishes on his record but it's going to take something more than special to add the undefeated Cormier to this list. His striking is not highly regarded and that should present a glaring hole in his game come fight time.
The deck is stacked against "Durkin" here, yet he's already won in terms of advancing his career.
Bottom Line from Las Vegas: The bottom line for this fight it that it was thrown together to make sure Cormier's first weight cut down to 205 pounds was not in vain.
In truth, that could be Cormier's worst enemy in this bout. Cummins has repeatedly joked about getting a portion of Cormier's purse when he misses weight, and that could actually transpire. "DC's" struggles to make weight have been well documented; he even missed the 2008 Summer Games after frying his kidneys during a strenuous cut.
He's supposedly in great shape and ready to make a splash in his divisional debut, but we won't know for sure until he hits the scales on Friday.
The main thing Cummins has going for him is his confidence. He's familiar with Cormier, and he's also regarded as a tough up-and-coming light heavyweight prospect.
But this fight is too much, too soon, for the green "Durkin," so all signs point to him getting smashed.
If he doesn't, well, then we might have the biggest upset in MMA history on our hands.
Daniel Cormier won't gain much with a win over the obscure Patrick Cummins at UFC 170, but he just wants to shut "Durkin's" mouth. Will he make the light heavyweight limit with ease and move on to a truly relevant fight?