Daniel Cormier vows to drop to light heavyweight after Nelson, title shot or not

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC light heavyweight title picture has dramatically shifted in the time since Daniel Cormier first pledged to join its ranks.

Jon Jones, the champion who once looked so unstoppable, now has a legitimate rival in Alexander Gustafsson. The two lanky 26-year-olds are tentatively scheduled to fight their next opponents in the first quarter of 2014, and UFC President Dana White has vowed to book a rematch of their classic UFC 165 contest if they both emerge victorious.

That leaves Cormier, who hoped to earn an immediate title shot after dealing with Roy Nelson at UFC 166, on the outside looking in.

Regardless, at this point Cormier is committed to his decision to drop weight classes, even if it means he'll need to prove his mettle against a top light heavyweight contender before entering the title conversation.

"I'm still going to do it. I've already started to lose weight and keep an eye on the division," Cormier told MMAFighting.com. "Things can always change with a great performance. As we've seen in the past, a guy can put himself in the position that he probably didn't think he had before if he can do something unexpected in a fight or look really good in a fight.

"So no, [the Jones-Gustafsson situation] doesn't determine (anything). I think it's the weight class that I'm going to fight in from now on and for the foreseeable future."

On a Monday media conference call, White refused to forecast Cormier's future at 205 pounds until the former Olympian proves he can make the weight in a healthy fashion.

Cormier has a muddled history with weight cutting, having suffered kidney failure prior to the 2008 Olympics. However Cormier is confident that this time around will be different.

"I was from the old-school thought, where you just get the weight off, step on the scale no matter how you feel, and you just get yourself ready to compete," he said. "But I think there's been a lot of advances in resources. I have more resources now than when I was competing in wrestling. I'm able to get people to help me with my diet, someone to actually help me with making my food.

"When I was going through the Olympic games, I was actually cutting weight. Like right now, I haven't necessarily started to cut weight. I've just started to monitor it a little bit, and start to diet, and just put myself in a position where I can do it more comfortably."

One person who has already noticed the difference in Cormier's stature and abilities is his main training partner at AKA, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

"He's been looking great. He's been dropping that weight down." Velasquez said.

"Also, (he's) been quicker than I think he has in the past. He looks good, as far as, man, (when) we're sparring, we're pushing each other."

Though Cormier's lifestyle will change dramatically after UFC 166, he's determined not to look too far ahead. Nelson presents a formidable challenge -- one Cormier knows he'd be foolish to overlook.

"I've got tough fight ahead of me next. I've got to get through that first," Cormier said. "Because if I don't win that fight, then it doesn't matter what [Jones and Gustafsson] are doing, because I become just another guy trying to make my way toward getting where they are."

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