UFC 173 preview: Daniel Cormier has nothing left to prove heading into Dan Henderson fight

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As Daniel Cormier enters the second phase of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, the former Olympian has nothing left to prove. "DC" was a top five heavyweight who already established his ability to make the 205-pound weight limit, and can vault himself into a light heavyweight title fight with a big win this weekend in "Sin City."

Daniel Cormier is just a few days away from getting locked into a cage with Dan Henderson, who like his fellow Olympian, is gunning for a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight championship in the latter part of 2014.

It's all or nothing.

Leading up to his 205-pound slugfest, which takes place in Sat. night's (May 24, 2014) UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, the buzz around the digital watercooler has centered on the dreaded "H-bomb," an epithet used to characterize the most devastating finisher in combat sports.

Henderson's right hand crowned Michael Bisping king of the Photoshops, and turned Mauricio "Shogun" Rua into a Brazilian Mr. Potato Head.

Should Cormier be worried?

Probably not. For all the hullabaloo surrounding the fist of legend, "Hendo" has just 14 wins by way of knockout (KO) or technical knockout (TKO). By comparison, heavyweight hurter Roy Nelson has 13 -- including 11 straight -- and "DC" made him look silly.

That happens a lot against Cormier.

Still, a question mark hovers over his future at light heavyweight, following UFC 170's first-round murder of java jester Patrick Cummins. Demolishing "Durkin" didn't answer his final question; namely, how the former heavyweight will handle the speed and tenacity of fighters already accustomed to the lighter class.

Then again, that question may have already been answered.

Eating a salad and doing an extra hour on the treadmill won't change all of the things which already made him great. Whether he's 235 or 205, "DC" is still going to be fast, intelligent, and perhaps the best wrestler in the entire division.

So why so many reservations?

Whenever a promising mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter emerges, he (or she) is automatically subjected to a battery of merit-defining inquiries. Not just by fans, but by pundits, too. Cormier, who cut his teeth in the Strikeforce promotion, is no exception.

Yeah, he beat (insert tomato can here), but what about his (insert MMA skill set here)?

Think the Olympian can't handle power punchers? Soa "The Hulk" Palelei has 11 straight wins by way of KO/TKO and hasn't lost since 2010, when he was stopped by -- you guessed it -- Cormier. And you saw what happened to the brick-fisted Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.

Submissions?

Josh Barnett has 20 career taps, second only to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira among active UFC heavyweights, including a 2006 toe hold over Olympic gold medalist Pawel Nastula. He couldn't even threaten a single submission in 25 minutes against "DC," who also whooped two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) champion Jeff Monson.

Yeah, he beat the best Strikeforce has to offer, but how will he fare against UFC-level competition?

Just ask former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.

When it comes to cautious pessimism, the well is about to run dry. No doubt there will still be plenty of thirsty haters even in the wake of a sensational win on Sat. night -- if it comes -- because detractors will transform Henderson from savvy slugger into battle-worn old guy robbed of TRT.

That's just the way it works in MMA.

No matter how good you are, or how well you perform, there is always something left to prove. And you know what? I kind of prefer it that way. It keeps me tuning in, even when we have 6,872 fight cards each year.

UFC 173 included.

For more on how Cormier came to be paired off against Henderson click here. To get a look at some of "DC's" history-making moments click here and here and stay tuned this weekend for all the UFC 173 fight coverage you can handle.

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