Daniel Cormier at Strikeforce Houston
A two-time Olympian, Daniel Cormier has wrestling roots that he won’t ignore even in his fight against Abu Dhabi champion grappler Jeff Monson in Strikeforce.
Daniel Cormier has had the chance to live out a lot of the dreams he’s had in life.
He’s been a two-time National Champion in collegiate wrestling and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team. While he still has dreams unfulfilled, like being a Captain on the Discovery series ‘Deadliest Catch,’ Cormier will get to take another step towards his long term goals of being an MMA champion with his fight this weekend against Jeff Monson.
Monson has far more experience than Cormier, coming into the fight with more than five times as many bouts as his counterpart, but the former Oklahoma State wrestler has learned a lot through his seven mixed martial arts victories.
Just like in his wrestling career, Cormier has a hard time taking things slow and easy, so when the chance to fight Monson came up he jumped at the chance. That’s just the kind of guy Cormier is, he never backs down from a challenge.
“I’m an impatient guy. I wrestled at the highest level for so long so I don’t really keep things in perspective. 2009, when I started I was in Chicago with Bob (Cook) for Fedor vs. Rogers and just in awe at the event, at the enormity of it. I was like man I can’t wait to get there,” Cormier said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“Bob goes ‘it won’t be that long D.C. As long as you commit yourself and work hard, it will be fine. A year and a half later I’m on those cards. It’s a journey that seems like it’s taken long because of the trips to Australia, fighting in King of the Cage, fighting here and there, but in reality it’s been a short journey for me. It’s an honor and a privilege to be fighting on that card.”
If Cormier ever decides to step away from doing competitive athletics, he definitely has a future behind the mic. As intelligent and well spoken as anybody in mixed martial arts, Cormier is extremely humble and respectful towards Monson going into their fight.
Never a fan of trash talking an opponent, Cormier understands the danger that comes with facing a fighter with the experience and grappling pedigree that Monson carries with him.
“He’s actually one of the guys this sport was built on. He was fighting in the UFC around the very beginning, fought all around the world, very active, Abu Dhabi champion. I don’t really have to list his accomplishments, people know them. It’s an honor for me to fight somebody of that caliber,” Cormier said.
Heading into the fight, the biggest question that keeps coming up for Cormier is how comfortable he feels on the ground because of Monson’s vast experience in the jiu-jitsu realm. A champion of the Abu Dhabi grappling series, Monson boasts one of the most dominant ground games in the sport.
Cormier understands the dangers in fighting on the ground with a guy like Monson, but he refuses to believe that he can’t go to the mat with him or any other fighter for that matter. In his heart, Cormier knows he’s a wrestler and he won’t let another fighter’s skill set take away one of his biggest attributes.
“I can’t ignore my wrestling because he’s so good at jiu-jitsu,” said Cormier. “I wrestle, so I have to be willing to take him down and fight on the ground because he’s a good stand-up fighter. This guy has no glaring weaknesses.
“I think I am going to dictate where the fight takes place because of my wrestling ability. Jeff has some really, really tricky half guard sweeps, pulling guard, rolling you over and reversing you, so it’s going to be a battle of wills.”
There is one factor to this fight that Cormier is most looking forward to.
“It’s going to be the first time and maybe the last time in my career I’m going to be taller than someone,” Cormier joked.
It would appear that the sky is the limit for Cormier, but for him to reach his next set of dreams, he has to get past Jeff Monson. Cormier will try to do that very thing on Saturday night at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.
Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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