Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier was having a regular day at training like any other, hitting pads and helping his teammates like he does any Wednesday. But this day took a turn for the positive when he finished up his workout, and noticed he had a slew of messages on his phone, as well as a flood of Twitter responses awaiting his viewing.
“I was getting out of training because I thought I fought Sept. 29. So I was in the gym working out, starting my training camp. On Wednesday nights I hit mits with Javier (Mendes), and I got done and I was sitting on the side watching him work Shawn Bunch. Bob (Cook), my manager, told me today he’s like ‘they’re trying to bring over a bigger named guy, we don’t know who it is yet, but they’ll let us know something soon’,” Cormier told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday night.
“So Bunch went on Twitter cause I put a picture up of him hitting pads and he goes ‘I guess you’re fighting Frank Mir.’ So I started fumbling with my phone and I got a call from Daniel Rubenstein and he tells me that it’s a done deal, cause Ruby knows everything.”
Just like the rest of the world, Cormier found out via Twitter that he would indeed be facing former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir for his final fight in Strikeforce later this year. While a date and location have not been determined, the bout is likely to take place in October or November and will close the book on the Strikeforce heavyweight division forever.
Just over a week ago, Cormier heard once again via the internet that he was expected to face former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia for his final bout in Strikeforce. Now make no mistake, Cormier would have been happy to face any opponent, but when he got word that Frank Mir was going to be the name on his bout agreement, he certainly perked up.
“It’s like knowing I was going to fight Josh Barnett. There’s only a few guys in the world that their names ring that much and it’s so resounding when it comes to what they’ve done in this sport. So I was pumped up,” Cormier stated.
“Tim Sylvia’s accomplished a lot, but he just hasn’t really fought in the top of the sport for a while. No disrespect to Tim, but this is a much easier fight to get pumped up for. I dropped my phone a couple of times while I was trying to look at Twitter.”
Mir’s willingness to go to Strikeforce, even if it is only for one fight before they both head to the UFC in 2013, is still unprecedented because up till now that’s been the biggest complaint by many fighters competing in Zuffa’s sister promotion.
UFC fighters haven’t been willing to give up a bigger viewing audience and the marquee name that goes along with fighting in the Octagon to compete in Strikeforce.
When the offer came in, Mir was happy to make the move to go over and give Cormier the big fight he’s been waiting for. The former Olympian gave thanks to the executives at Zuffa, like UFC president Dana White, for making this deal possible.
“You’ve got to tip your hat off to the executives at Zuffa for doing something like that and to Frank Mir for doing it. I respect Frank greatly for stepping in and taking this fight. This fight can elevate my status in the sport a ton,” said Cormier.
Beyond Mir’s standing as a multi-time former UFC heavyweight champion, he’s also one of the most recognized fighters in the sport. His last fight was a headlining championship bout at UFC 146 against Junior dos Santos, and Mir has headlined more than his fair share of big shows including his part as the biggest card in history when he faced Brock Lesnar at UFC 100.
Cormier believes that facing Mir will raise his stock not only in the heavyweight division, but also to the casual UFC viewers who might tune in to see the bout because Mir is involved.
“The reality is Frank Mir is a guy people from the UFC know. He’s been a champion. He’s always around the top of the sport. Frank Mir is going to introduce me to the UFC fans a little bit more than I would fighting a different guy,” said Cormier.
Now it’s on to the business of getting ready for the fight with Mir, and that will be the only name on Cormier’s mind for the next few months.
He’s already begun his preparation, but he knows in his heart that he’s already had the best training ever to face Mir because Cormier has already defeated a man he believes is superior to his next opponent.
“There’s no motivation like fighting a champion. I respect Frank, the fight’s very similar to Josh Barnett. I think Josh Barnett is better,” Cormier revealed.
“No disrespect to Frank, but I think Josh is better and I’m going to train as if I’m fighting Josh Barnett again, and let’s see how this fight plays out.”
The last time Cormier prepared like that, he dominated Barnett for the better part of 25 minutes en route to winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. If he can duplicate that performance, Frank Mir’s lone trip to Strikeforce may not have a happy ending.