Daniel Cormier wasn’t even one of the eight men who kicked off the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand-Prix when it first began last year, but there’s no doubt he earned the belt that now adorns his waist after a dominant win over Josh Barnett, and the magnitude of what the he has achieved is now slowly starting to sink in for the tournament alternate.
“Amazing,” was Cormier’s initial reaction to his win in a post-fight interview with Shosports. “I look down at the names on this belt, and it’s a complete honor to actually be wearing it. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
During the fight Cormier often used his wrestling base to ensure that Barnett wasn’t able to take him down and would have to stand and strike with him, but at time he also showed why he was a former captain of the U.S Olympic wrestling team by performing huge takedowns of his own.
Despite Barnett being the bigger man Cormier was able to hoist him high in the air, something he is keen to point out is down to skill rather than brute strength.
“It’s more technique than anything. I wrestled at a really high level, so when I get to a leg, I know the majority of the time I’m going to finish. I wanted to fight him everywhere but on the bottom. I really wasn’t going to give him a takedown. I take a lot of pride in my wrestling, and I’m not going to let anybody take me down.”
Despite his wrestling credentials after his takedowns he always had to be vigilant as Barnett is a submission specialist, and Cormier, who’s own jiu-jitsu game is still a work in progress, admits that it wasn’t somewhere he felt entirely comfortable.
“I wanted to secure takedowns to score rounds, but then I started grappling with him and realized that I could actually hold my own in that position,” said Cormier. “I got in that one leg lock position, but I just didn’t panic and kept doing the things that my coaches taught me. Leandro Vieira (his BJJ coach) worked with me extensively in that position. I just did what I was trained to do.”
It’s not clear what’ll come next for Cormier, though a move to the UFC is certain to happen before the year is over, but for now he’s happy just to enjoy one of the biggest moments in his decorated sporting career.
“This ranks right up there with making my Olympic teams. This is the most important thing that has ever happened to me outside of my children. Thank you, Strikeforce and Showtime, for giving me the opportunity.”