Former Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier said he is moving to light heavyweight after his fight with Roy Nelson, win, lose or draw, even if he’s not guaranteed to get an immediate title shot.
Cormier said during a UFC 166 conference call with reporters that he’s already put himself in a position to cut weight after the Nelson fight, which takes place Saturday, Oct. 19.
“I am still gonna do it,” Cormier said, referring to a drop to 205 pounds. “I have already started to lose weight and keep an eye on the division.”
Although Cormier was in line for a title shot if he dropped from heavyweight to light heavyweight, the likely rematch between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson sometime next year could mean a long wait for Cormier, a former NCAA Division I wrestler. Jones is first scheduled to defend his title against Glover Teixeira sometime next year, likely in March. Cormier, however, hopes to cut in line.
“Things can always change with a great performance,” Cormier said. “As we have seen in the past, a guy can put himself in a 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.”
The possibility of a longer wait isn’t a problem, said Cormier, a former U.S. Olympic wrestler.
“It doesn’t deter me,” he said. “It’s the weight class I am going to fight in from now on and for the foreseeable future.”
Cormier first must get by the tough Nelson, in what has turned into a grudge match. Although Nelson’s physique belies that of a top MMA athlete, the hard-hitting powerhouse has hammers for hands and one-punch knockout power. Cormier (12-0), has victories over Josh Barnett, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Frank Mir.
“I have a tough fight ahead of me,” Cormier said. “I need to get through that first. If I don’t win that fight, then it doesn’t matter what those guys are doing because I am just another guy trying to make my way toward getting to where they are.”
Cormier is only dropping to light heavyweight because he wants to avoid a potential battle with his friend and teammate Cain Velasquez, the UFC heavyweight champion. The two have said they will never fight each other. Velasquez will defend his title against former champion Junior Dos Santos, also on Oct. 19.
Velasquez said Cormier will be dangerous as a light heavyweight.
“He’s been looking great … dropping that weight down, also being quicker than he has in the past,” Velasquez said. “He looks good. We are sparring. We are pushing each other. All of our workouts are kind of with each other right now. For me he’s the best trainer I can get. For him as well. We’re such a good team out there, just me and him sparring with each other, especially now being on the same card, all of our workouts are kind of with each other right now. I think we are both looking good.”
Cormier’s cut to 205 pounds likely won’t be easy. He was forced to withdraw from the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestling team after going into kidney failure from extreme weight cutting.
“It’s different,” Cormier said. “When I was going through the Olympic games I was actually cutting weight. Right now I haven’t necessarily started to cut weight I have just started to monitor it a little bit. I have started to diet and just put myself in a position when it is time to cut weight I can do it more comfortably.”
Cormier said he will be more educated when he cuts the weight next time.
“I think there have been a lot of advances in nutrition applied to sports lately than when I was going through it in wrestling,” Cormier said. “I was from the old school thought when you just get the weight off step, on the scale, and no matter how you feel you just get yourself ready to compete.”
The American Kickboxing Academy fighter said a lot of people are on his side.
“I have more resources now than I had when I was in competing in wrestling,” Cormier said. “I am able to get people to help me with my diet, someone to actually help me with making my food. People want to help. When you start to do things positive, more people are willing to help you.”