SAN JOSE -- What's next for Daniel Cormier?
That was the question on everyone's mind after he manhandled veteran Josh Barnett to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament on Saturday night at the HP Pavilion.
Will he go straight to the UFC, where he'd clearly fit in among the division's elite, or will he fight again in Strikeforce?
The answer, for now: Neither. A visit to the surgeon is on deck before anything else goes down in Cormier's career.
Cormier broke his right hand in the opening stanza of his five-round battle with the former UFC heavyweight champion. It was the same hand he broke when he knocked out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in September in the tournament semifinals.
The former Olympic wrestler decided against surgery the first time around, which made for an eight-month stretch between his fights. This time, he wants to let it properly heal.
"I think this time I'm going to take a different approach," Cormier said. "I think I'm going to have surgery on it and get it fixed, because I don't want it to be recurring and then end up costing me later and later on down the line."
Cormier never bothered telling his corner that he thought his hand was broken. Instead, the early injury forced him to improvise.
"You're in a fight, you have to use all your weapons," said Cormier. "That's why I was kicking, I was punching, I was kneeing him in there. Josh is too good to fight handicapped. I don't think my coaches picked up on [the injury] because I didn't tell them. I just kept fighting."
That approach led to an epiphany for the undefeated American Kickboxing Academy star during the second round, which led to the fight turning to his favor for good.
"The biggest surprise was when I took him down in the second round and just kind of stayed here," Cormier said. "It was very surprising to me how easy it was to stay in his guard, he's such a good leg lock guy that I thought maybe he would let me pass through his half-guard or something.
"I made an adjustment in the fight when I realized he was going to allow me to control him on the bottom. It was a little easier with my strikes when I realized he was going to respect my takedowns. It changed things a little bit."
Still, Cormier was impressed with the toughness displayed by his opponent, who wasn't at the post-fight press conference.
"Josh did a great job," Cormier said. "He fought tough, he fought hard, he was in there in my face the whole time. I couldn't believe some of the shots that I landed in there, especially the two head kicks. I couldn't believe that he stayed up."
Cormier has one fight left on his Strikeforce contract. He hopes to fight again in 2012. No one would speculate as to whom Cormier would meet. After all, who knows what Strikeforce will look like six months down the road? Cormier simply wishes to focus on getting healthy.
"Normally when you get surgery you get it to heal faster," he said. "It's not as bad as it was the first time, because the first time, I could hardly I even move it."
And besides, Cormier has been through far worse predicaments in life than a broken hand, both in competition, where he came up short in several international wrestling meets, and more importantly, in his personal life, where he has coped with quite a bit of tragedy. The heavyweight, who was emotional in the cage after the win, waxed philosophical during the press conference.
"When you think about everyone's trials and tribulations, for me, getting knocked down and getting back up, it made me a stronger person," Cormier said. "Everything's turned back around. Not only is my career going great, but I have two young kids, a great girlfriend, it's just everything is on the up and up right now."
"Now matter how bad things get, eventually the sun is going to shine. "If you just keep it at, pursuing your goals, eventually good things happen to decent people. For a person who is set on his goals, good things happen. Everyone deals with adversity. It's how you bounce back from it."