Cormier intends to be UFC champ by end of 2014
Former Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is about to embark on a whole new career starting in 2014 when he drops down to 205 pounds and fights Rashad Evans in the main event at UFC 170 in February.
For his entire time in MMA thus far, Cormier has fought at heavyweight and he’s been nothing short of awe inspiring in his performances. The former two-time Olympian has bested two ex-champions (Frank Mir and Josh Barnett) while also taking out two other top ten fighters in the last couple of years (Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and Roy Nelson).
If not for the fact that his close friend and training partner Cain Velasquez was sitting atop the world as heavyweight champion, chances are Cormier would either be fighting for the title right now or would have already fought for the belt in his first couple of UFC appearances. With Velasquez planted firmly as champion, however, Cormier has opted to start new at light heavyweight with his eyes on the prize of getting a title shot before the year is out.
Cormier has made no secret his desire to face light heavyweight king Jon Jones, and he’s determined to do whatever’s necessary to get there.
My intention is to get there and stay there.
"This year hopefully in 2014 I fight for the belt and win the belt," Cormier told FOX Sports. "I don’t want to get to a championship fight and not capitalize on the opportunity. My intention is to get there and stay there. Hopefully by the end of 2014 I’ll be the UFC champion."
The first step of the process is for Cormier to officially make the cut to 205 pounds. He has been documenting his weight loss ever since he started dropping pounds in preparation for the shift in divisions, and Cormier knows the pressure is on to get there safely and on time.
Weight cutting issues famously cut Cormier down during his second Olympic run when his kidneys experienced issues while he was shedding pounds before the competition and eventually he was removed all together and not allowed to wrestle. It was a heartbreaking moment for the veteran grappler, so this time around Cormier is being smart, tactical and healthy as he makes the move down in weight.
His first test in the division will be anything but a warmup fight either as he faces former champion Rashad Evans, who also just happens to be a previous friend and training partner of champion Jon Jones. Cormier knows if he wants to get the best fighter in the division there is no better way to get there than to go through Evans.
"That will be a great test for me," Cormier said about Evans.
That will be a great test for me. [on Evans]
Over the years, Cormier and Evans have developed a friendship and were part of a group of wrestlers that called themselves ‘Team Thirsty’ alongside other names like former Strikeforce champion ‘King’ Mo Lawal. In February, friendship will be set aside as Cormier guns for the top of the division by going through Evans at UFC 170.
This isn’t a new situation for Cormier, who was also friends with former UFC champion Josh Barnett prior to their fight in Strikeforce in 2012. The two grapplers spent hours on media tours and interviews, side-by-side, but when it came time to compete Cormier strapped on his gloves and went to work.
He’ll do the same thing against Evans.
"He’s one of my buddies but it’s one of those situations if you don’t train together on a daily basis (you fight)," Cormier said. "I respect him for everything that he’s accomplished. He’s going to bring out the best in me."