Eleven months ago Daniel Cormier was just another up-and-coming heavyweight, plucked from the Challengers circuit and fresh off the biggest moment of his career -- a decision victory over 40-year-old Jeff Monson. Now, amazingly, Cormier is the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion and one of the hottest prospects in mixed martial arts.
The former Olympian bulldozed his way through Josh Barnett at Saturday's Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier event, outclassing the veteran with a dizzying display of striking prowess and taking the fight to the ground seemingly at will. Without a doubt, it was a star-making performance that left both fans and professional fighters eager to see how Cormier would fare against his UFC brethren.
Though the night did not solely belong to the heavyweights, as Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson engaged in a contentious rubber match on the card's co-main event. After 25 back-and-forth minutes, Melendez earned a razor-thin split decision win to retain his Strikeforce lightweight title, with the ruling became a polarizing topic for many fighters in the MMA community.
DANIEL CORMIER'S COMING OUT PARTY
What a pace for heavyweights going 5 rds, I cant remember a HWT 5 rnd fight with guys this conditioned, then again how often do heavies go 5— Brian Stann (@BrianStann) May 20, 2012
Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) May 20, 2012
Josh is thinking "no one makes me bleed my own blood"— Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) May 20, 2012
Someone from the Red Cross should be here to collect all this blood.— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) May 20, 2012
Daniel Cormier won this fight in every arena. He has vastly improved every fight and is now a threat to every heavyweight out there.— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) May 20, 2012
Congratulation for the winner @dc_mma— Antonio Pezao Silva (@BigfootSilva) May 20, 2012
@JoshLBarnett you have the heart of a lion, way to stay in the fight— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) May 20, 2012
It's hard not to like Josh Barnett. Despite his baggage. #Strikeforce— Jason High (@KCBanditMMA) May 20, 2012
Congrats @dc_mma !!— Chris Weidman (@ChrisWeidmanUFC) May 20, 2012
Cormier dominates the fight...but why run for the last 10 sec? #fb— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) May 20, 2012
Dear Coxs cable can you show the Strikeforce live instead 2hrs after everybody else has seen it Otherwise I'll have to write an email & shit— Forrest Griffin (@ForrestGriffin) May 20, 2012
SCORING MELENDEZ VS. THOMSON III
Good fight.... Thought @THEREALPUNK had it. Maybe part 4 coming up though!!— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) May 20, 2012
Was a great fight, had Thompson win'n the last 3 rnds tho. Def could of went either way. Both tuff ass dudes that brought it for 25 min.— Shane Roller (@shaneroller) May 20, 2012
Very close match. Gil was strong at first. Josh came on strong at end.— Josh Barnett (@JoshLBarnett) May 20, 2012
Meh, coulda went either way. I thought it was a draw. #Strikeforce— Jason High (@KCBanditMMA) May 20, 2012
Congrats @GilbertMelendez overcoming a nasty back injury in training camp but still pulled out the win— Cesar Gracie (@CesarGracieBJJ) May 20, 2012
Jamie Varner (@jamievarner) May 20, 2012
Too tough/close/razor thin to call. What a fight!!!!— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) May 20, 2012
If the fans don't give @GilbertMelendez the respect he deserves after cleaning out every fighter in his division something has to change!— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) May 20, 2012