Daniel Cormier is by far one of the most decorated wrestlers to compete in MMA. The former Olympian was a two-time wrestling champion at Colby Community College and NCAA Division I runner-up at Oklahoma State, losing out to Cael Sanderson. However, since transitioning to MMA, Cormier has become a well-versed fighter on both the mat and on the feet. His striking game has improved tremendously throughout the course of his brief MMA career, and already the undefeated heavyweight has a signature win—a dominant decision over former UFC champ Josh Barnett. Cormier will be making his final Strikeforce appearance in the promotion’s last event, and it’s a virtual foregone conclusion that Cormier will win and enter the UFC’s ranks undefeated. But can he continue his success once he steps into the Octagon?

Cormier has already stated that he has no intentions of fighting American Kickboxing Academy teammate and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, which would seem to indicate that Cormier plans on moving to the light heavyweight division. He’s already attempted to call out Jon Jones, the UFC champion at 205 pounds, and could very well face the champ, should Jones get past Chael Sonnen in April.

Recently, Cormier expressed interest in competing at both light heavyweight and heavyweight, which would certainly be a feat for anyone, let alone a 33 year old. With such high hopes and dreams, can Cormier make some noise in the Octagon or is he destined to fall flat?

His skills will likely translate well at either heavyweight or light heavyweight. The main knock on him at heavyweight is his size—Cormier stands at just 5-foot-11 and normally weighs in around 240 pounds. That’s obviously well below the height of most of the top heavyweights, but Cormier has shown that his lack of height doesn’t affect him. With so few fighters actually capable of “fighting tall,” a reach advantage doesn’t come into play as much as it does in boxing. Antonio Silva is regarded as one of the biggest heavyweights competing right now and Cormier had no issues with putting him down. It’s easy to imagine that he could do the same to some of the heavyweights in the UFC.

Ultimately, however, Cormier’s UFC prospects at the light heavyweight division look promising. His lack of height wouldn’t be much of an issue (although Jones’ length would create problems for everyone, not just Cormier) and he would have the advantage of weight over the much smaller light heavyweights. The Strikeforce fighter has already competed around that weight class during his wrestling career, so it wouldn’t be much of a transition for the him.

However, what is cause for concern regarding Cormier’s UFC prospects are his age and his proneness to injury. Very few fighters have achieved success at 33 years of age, and with Cormier getting such a late start to his MMA career, he can’t spare any time in between fights. That may be unavoidable, however, considering that Cormier has broken his hand on numerous occasions. Hand surgery may be “minor” compared to the torn ACLs that plague the UFC’s ranks these days, but it still causes Cormier to go on the shelf for an extended period of time. For a guy who doesn’t have years ahead of him in his career, Cormier can’t afford to break his hand during every fight.

Cormier has the skills and definitely a solid team behind him to make some waves in whatever weight class he chooses, but he’ll need to make the most of every opportunity and strike while the iron is hot.

Photo: Daniel Cormier (Laron Zaugg/MMA Weekly)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.