Jimi Manuwa is not a big fan of Daniel Cormier.
The UFC light heavyweight contender doesn't think the 205-pound titleholder is as good as some make him out to be. In Cormier’s last championship defense, in April at UFC 210, Manuwa was sitting cageside witnessing the action as Cormier rematched dangerous striker Anthony Johnson. Yet, despite Cormier finishing the fight in the second round, Manuwa was not impressed by the Olympic wrestler’s performance. In fact, Manuwa believes that if he were the one in the Octagon with the champ, he’d knock Cormier out before the third round.
“I didn’t see anything that was like, ‘wow,’ or anything,” Manuwa told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He’s just a fat wrestler, that’s it. He can't stand with me, you know what I mean? All he’s got is his wrestling, and all he's going to try and do is take me down if I fight him. That’s it. He’s very good at it, but that’s all he’s got. If we fight, all I would have to work on is takedown defense, and I’ll knock him out within two rounds.”
That opportunity may come to Manuwa in the near future, as he’s ranked No. 2 in the division and he’s scheduled to fight top-five light heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 — the same card Cormier will headline in an attempt to defend his 205-pound title against longtime rival Jon Jones.
If victorious against Oezdemir, it’s likely Manuwa will get a shot at the winner of Cormier-Jones later this year. However, his shot at the belt could come earlier, as he’s on-deck as a potential replacement in case Cormier or Jones is forced to withdraw from the fight, which has happened several times in the making of their highly anticipated rematch.
“If Jones pulls out or DC pulls out, I’m going to main event and save the card,” Manuwa said, laughing. “I’m preparing for a fight. I’m preparing stand-up, wrestling, judo, everything; I’m just prepared to fight. It doesn't matter who I'm fighting, whether it’s Daniel Cormier, Jones or Volkan, I’m prepared to fight. I'm doing my runs, I’m doing my cardio, I’m doing my striking, I’m doing my wresting and everything in order to win the fight.
“If it’s DC, I just have to do a little bit of more wrestling. If it’s Jones, I’ll do some wrestling and a little bit more striking. If it’s Volkan, I have to do a little bit more striking and takedown defense and sharpen up everything. So that’s what were doing, sharpening up everything and getting ready for victory.”
If the rematch between Cormier and Jones does come to fruition on July 29, Manuwa believes Cormier will once again come up short against arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
“I think Jones beats him again,” Manuwa explained. “I don't mind who I fight, both are great fighters, but I think Jones got his number. I don’t think there’s nothing Daniel can do on Jones. I think if he [Cormier] takes him down, he can’t keep him down, and he can’t beat him in the striking department. So I don't think he’s got anything for Jones, I think Jones beats him in the title fight on July 29th.”