On April 20, if Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier walks out of the cage victorious in his fight with Frank Mir, he should become the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight championship.

Let’s rewind to 2011, when Cormier was someone that only MMA diehards knew. He was an 8-0 fighter who had just defeated his first high-profile opponent in Jeff Monson, in what was a grand prix reserve bout.  Luck and good fortune were behind Cormier, as Alistair Overeem made the jump from Strikeforce and the tournament to the UFC, resulting in “DC” filling in the empty tournament spot left behind by the Dutch fighter.  He seized the moment, knocking out current No. 1 contender Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in under four minutes in the semifinal round and battering Josh Barnett for five rounds to win the grand prix.

Now, the captain of the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestling team sits with a perfect 11-0 record, waiting for his opportunity to fight for the first time in the Octagon against Mir.  A former UFC champion, Mir’s last fight was for the heavyweight title. It was a fight which he lost to then champion Junior dos Santos.  Mir has been a longtime staple in the heavyweight division, defeating Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice, and has even been around long enough to have a victory over Tank Abbott on his record.

It has been said that the winner of the fight between Mark Hunt and Junior dos Santos would be the next No. 1 contender. But if Cormier is able to exit the cage victorious, he will have something that neither Hunt nor dos Santos would have, and that is a perfect record.

Sure, Hunt is on a four-fight winning streak, but who did he defeat in those fights?  Stefan Struve, who can’thas failed to beat anyone ranked highly.  Ben Rothwell, who has alternated wins and losses in his fights since his time with Affliction back in 2008.  Chris Tuchscherer, who was released from the promotion after going 1-3 in his last four.  And Cheick Kongo, who put on a dreadful performance in victory over Shawn Jordan at UFC 149.  A victory over JDS for Hunt would be impressive, but it would truthfully be his first impressive victory since he beat Cro Cop back at the height of Pride FC.  A victory for the Samoan fighter should get him a title eliminator fight, not a title fight.

Ultimately, it shouldn’t be a given to see Junior dos Santos get a title shot with the victory, because in beating Hunt, he would be beating someone that he should beat handily. Defeating Hunt wouldn’t be something unexpected or anything to write home about.  Sure, it would be nice to see Cain Velasquez and dos Santos fight out their trilogy, but that fight should be one that is earned, not given.

A victory by Cormier would give him an impressive 12-0 record and enough momentum to carry the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix title into the cage with him to take on the winner of the Velasquez versus “Bigfoot” match.  The headlines for the fight would be simple, considering that Cormier has already fought and defeated Silva in the grand prix and a fight against Velasquez would pit two of the sport’s top wrestlers against each other.

But before any of this can even go down, “DC” has to take care of business on April 20.  If he does, he should get the next shot at the title, not the winner of the fight between dos Santos and Hunt.

Photo: Daniel Cormier (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.