The dream for any professional athlete is to reach the pinnacle of their respective sport. For mixed martial artists that would be fighting in the octagon of the UFC. This Saturday in San Jose, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier (11-0-0) will do just that.
Cormier, a former Olympian, makes his UFC debut against two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir (16-6-0) at UFC on FOX 7. There has been little trash talk between the two, but each man has been very open about their desire to hurt the other.
Any trash talk that has been made has come via Mir, who has basically called out Cormier's lack of "real" competition and that the only reason people are interested in this fight is because of him.
Cormier, who has stuck to talking about what he'll do inside the cage, has never been one for any actual trash talk and has been on the verge of super stardom for quite a while. And, a win over Mir will likely make that happen.
There is a desire by everyone that steps foot into the octagon to put on a great show. Not only for the fans, but also for their careers. Mir and Cormier are definitely of that type and have no qualms about it. They can both argue their place as a top-10, even top-5, heavyweight in the world and with a victory this Saturday night they can cement themselves in the thick of the title chase.
As Mir has said, several times in fact, he believes Cormier is a tremendous fighter but that his record may be “padded” due to where he has fought. It is no secret that Cormier was matched up poorly by Strikeforce, but DC did defeat each man he faced and did so in impressive fashion. Not to mention, he’s defeated the likes of Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva and Soa Palelei.
To say Cormier hasn’t faced any top level competition may be a little far fetched, but is he deserving of his spot in the top-5? Yes. Will a victory over Frank Mir push him closer to a title shot at ANY division? Most likely. Every fighter wants a title and DC is no difference, but whether it comes at heavyweight or light-heavyweight is still to be determined. Mir, on the other hand, knows if he wins he wants to become a three-time champ.
Mir has been a mainstay in the UFC for over 12 years and doesn’t seem like he’s near the end of his illustrious career. He has faced and beaten almost everyone that’s stepped foot in the HW division and he’s done so in numerous ways. Mir is one of the most feared heavyweights that has ever been in the UFC and it’s because of his wide array of skill sets. He holds black belts in Kenpo Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s one of a handful of people to submit one of the Nogueira and knockout Mirko Filipovic.
What will be interesting in this bout is how Mir’s grappling does up against Cormier’s elite wrestling. Fans will be in for a treat if this bout gets taken to the mat. And, the numbers show that it can end up there. Both fighters have a takedown accuracy over 40% and each land almost 50% of their strikes.
In most cases fans would expect two behemoths like Cormier and Mir to keep this fight standing, but this heavyweight battle can easily become one of the most exciting displays of wrestling and grappling witnessed in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Nitesh Dutt is a Production Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.