There was little new to learn about Daniel Cormier's fighting ability last night. Cormier, a gargantuan 20-to-1 favorite at fight time, was supposed to blow away Dion Staring and he did. He took his opponent down four times, passed guard five times, and eventually out-landed Staring in total strikes 87-18 en route to a second-round technical knockout in the Strikeforce company finale. As a performance, it couldn't be graded anything other than an "A," except by those who believe he should have been able to put away a 14-year veteran even faster than he did.
As a post-fight self-promoter, Cormier did even better, attempting to chart his own course for 2013 by calling his shot with two major matchups in separate divisions. First, he said he would like to fight Frank Mir at the rumored UFC on FOX 7 show in San Jose, California, and after that, he wants to make the drop to light-heavyweight to fight divisional champion Jon Jones.
If Cormier's desire was to stoke the fires of fans and plant a seed in the minds of the UFC brass, check and check. It was a master class in promotion. We see call-outs all the time, but who calls out two guys in one night? It was a plan audacious, brilliant and downright ballsy.
"No, nothing's been signed," he acknowledged a short time later in the Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine post-fight press conference. "This is just what I said in my ideal universe, that's what would happen as this year goes on. It could not happen, but if it doesn't, I'll just keep plugging away."
You can't blame the guy for trying. In fact, we should probably credit him for it. Too often, we see fighters waste the few precious seconds of microphone time they get after winning, a moment when the whole mixed martial arts world is watching them at once. You can understand their desire to thank their coaches and teammates, but it's a time that is much better spent building interest in what is next. Few of them do, even when prompted to address what opponent they might prefer to see in their immediate future.
When it came to last night's crop of Strikeforce winners, most could not even say if they would be heading to the UFC, let alone who they wanted to fight next, but Cormier bucked that pattern, plotting his path as his first order of post-fight business. In addressing a question about his opponent Staring, Cormier credited his toughness but quickly shifted gears to Mir, challenging the former UFC heavyweight champion to a bout. Seconds later, it was Jones in his targets.
"I'm going to let Jon defend his belt April 27th, and I'm going to kick his ass in the fall," he said.
Regardless of exactly who is next, Cormier appears ready to make the jump to the UFC's octagon. The 33-year-old is a perfect 11-0, but it's not just the record as much as it is the dominance of his wins that has made him a standout. Over his last five Strikeforce fights, which include wins over decorated veterans Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva and Jeff Monson, Cormier has out-landed those opponents 468-194, a ratio of almost 2.5-to-1. He also scored 11 takedowns without being taken down a single time. Cormier said after last night's win that it was his goal to win in every aspect of the fight, and that's something he has accomplished repeatedly in his career.
But last night, he also had a secondary goal of jumpstarting his UFC career with his words. It is perhaps a byproduct of his age and intelligence that motivated Cormier to offer his comments and attempt to set events into motion.
"Now that [Strikeforce] is over, I'm going to head over to the UFC and hopefully be more busy, more active," he said. "I mean, I'm old. I'm 33 years old and I just started so I've got to get busy and take advantage of my athletic prime."
2012 was mostly a year of frustration for Cormier, who fought once, had a fight canceled and spent two separate parts of the year nursing a broken hand back to health. With his 34th birthday looming in March, he's not content to let 2013 play out, instead choosing to take control of his destiny and at least ask for what he wants. Time and again, we've seen the UFC bosses reward vocal fighters who take such action.
In asking for two major names at once, the bold heavyweight may get neither, but at least the decision-makers know his ambition, at least the fans can grasp the depths of his drive. Either way, Daniel Cormier is coming, and Mir and Jones are officially put on notice.