by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy Esther Lin/Strikeforce)
Former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier isn’t wasting any time when it comes to establishing myself as a force in the heavyweight division.
He has fought four times in just over a year, and finished all four of his opponents, never going beyond the second round in any bout.
Yet through it all, Cormier remains patient and focused on building his career in such a way that he will not sacrifice long-term success for instantaneous payoffs.
“I’ve got to make sure I take care of my career,” Cormier told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s the most important thing to me, it’s my livelihood, and I have to make sure what (my management and I are) doing is in the best interest of that.”
Still, when an opportunity arose to be part of Saturday’s Strikeforce event in Houston, Texas, in front of friends and family after just having claimed the King of the Cage heavyweight title from Tony Johnson less than a week ago, Cormier and his team couldn’t help but jump at it.
“The decision to get back (into the cage so soon) is because of experience, I want experience,” he stated. “I enjoy fighting and love the competitive feeling I get whenever I’m about to compete in a fight or wrestling match.
“My manager/coach, ‘Crazy’ Bob Cook, thought it was a good idea to rack up as many of these fights as these opportunities are presented to us. I’m doing them and I’m having a great time doing it.”
Having been successful on his two previous Strikeforce appearances on the Challengers Series, Cormier knows what’s at stake now that the company has chosen to move him to its main stage.
“It’s a huge opportunity to make a statement,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to fight for the Strikeforce big heads and the Showtime big heads, which you generally don’t get when you fight on Challengers.
“The opportunity to fight in front of my family and friends also plays a big part in it. I’m so happy about this opportunity; the whole situation is perfect.”
Standing in the way of Cormier’s perfect evening is a monster of a man, six-foot-six-inch heavyweight prospect Jason “Juggernaut” Riley.
“He’s a big, tough, durable guy,” commented Cormier. “He’s fought some of the best guys in the world, and he took the fight against me (on short notice), so it shows me that he’s a fighter.
“I’m excited to fight him. It’s going to be a very tough fight. He’s a big guy, and you have to be careful or he’ll knock you out.”
Cormier sees Riley as exactly the type of fight he needs right now to continue to work his way up the ranks.
“It’s definitely going to test my abilities,” stated Cormier. “I think we’re getting better guys every time and we’re progressing every time as we move forward in my career.
“It feels good to know we’re headed in the right direction. Facing more dangerous fighters will only make me more aware, sharper, and hopefully my skills are good enough to pull off a win.”
Having gained the kind of success and support early in his career that some fighters do not find their entire careers, Cormier knows how blessed he is, and he intends on paying back that support with continued strong performances.
“I just want to thank MMA Elite, Zinkin Entertainment and the American Kickboxing Academy,” he said in closing. “Fallow me on Twitter @Cormier2010 and on Facebook, we’ll accept every single friend request.
“It’s going to be awesome. I’m going to go out, put on a good show in an exciting fight, and hopefully get out of there with another finish.”