Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
The question surfaced the moment Daniel Cormier finished pounding out a bloodied and stunned Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in Strikeforce's heavyweight grand prix. When Cormier, a former Olympian and rare blue-chip heavyweight prospect, eventually made his way to the UFC, what would happen if his good friend and training partner, Cain Velasquez, was the reigning champion?
For a time, both Cormier and Velasquez simply shrugged off the question, not wanting to entertain an uncomfortable situation before it became a reality. However, after Cormier solidified his top-5 ranking with an unmitigated rag-dolling of Josh Barnett, a fallback plan to curb the match-up between training partners became an increased necessity.
So, the way Cormier saw it, what better way to make a big splash than by calling out one of the faces of the UFC?
"I think he wants to drop down [to light heavyweight]," Velasquez said of Cormier between bites of chicken at a recent media luncheon. "He's been wanting that fight with Jon Jones for a while now. We've definitely talked about it. [When] he does come into the UFC, he can make 205 [pounds]."
Cormier has called out Jones numerous times in recent weeks, even challenging the light heavyweight kingpin to a season on The Ultimate Fighter. Jones publicly acknowledged that while he'd be open to a coaching spot on TUF, it wouldn't be against Cormier, who he dismissively referred to as a "relative unknown."
Former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen ultimately landed the TUF gig opposite Jones, leaving a slighted Cormier with a bitter taste in his mouth.
"It eats at him a little bit," Velasquez said of his friend.
"You being the champ, I believe, my opinion, is you don't have a say in who you fight. The No. 1 guy is the No. 1 guy. Whatever. You need to take on all challenges."
Regardless, the whole discussion is moot if Cormier, who weighed-in at 238 pounds for his fight against Barnett, is unable to healthily trim his body down to the 205-pound light heavyweight limit.
Cormier was team captain of the United States' 2008 Olympic wrestling team, competing at 96 kilograms (roughly 212 pounds), until he infamously withdrew prior to competition when an incident cutting weight led to severe kidney failure, which ultimately ended his amateur wrestling career. Since then Cormier has been understandably hesitant to resort back to cutting weight.
According to Velasquez, while it won't be easy, the pair's team at San Jose's American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) has faith Cormier will be able to drop the weight in a healthy, non-threatening manner.
"He's heavy right now," admitted Velasquez. "He's like 240 [pounds] right now.
"But, you know, we'll clean up his diet really good, because the way his diet is, it isn't the cleanest. He's going to have to work a little bit at it, for sure. He just has to do it smart. The diet needs to be on-point. He can't be messing around with that kind of stuff. I think he can do it."
If everything works out, and Cormier successfully cuts down and secures his fight against Jones, Velsaquez has no doubts about the result.
"He'd beat him," vowed the admittedly biased former champ. "He's fast. He's powerful. He has the best wrestling out there. I think he beats him wherever they're at."
As for a future match-up between training AKA partners, the 30-year-old Velasquez unsurprisingly reiterated that fight fans probably shouldn't hold their breath.
"I've said this before, if you want to see us fight, come Monday, Wednesday or Friday into the gym. You'll see us fight for free."
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