Strikeforce's Cormier welcomes fights with Emelianenko, Kharitonov, Rizzo or Sylvia

Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier is far too beaten up to dwell on his future at this moment.

Five grueling rounds with Josh Barnett earlier this month at "Strikeforce: Heavyweight Grand Prix Final" left him with a broken right hand (his third in eight months), a split eyelid that winked to the press in red, and the biggest win of his brief fight career.

"It's not that day when you get up and go out and go to a family barbeque," Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio  of the aftermath following the tourney finals, which took place May 19 in San Jose, Calif. "I was laying in bed. I was crying to my mom. I felt like a 4-year-old."

Strikeforce owes broadcast partner Showtime another Cormier (10-0 MMA, 6-0 SF) fight before the end of the year. A medical suspension could keep him out six months, though a doctor can clear him before that. Following hand surgery, a PR rep told MMAjunkie the fighter is likely to return in the fall.

Many say Cormier is a shoo-in for a move to the UFC and perhaps an immediate title shot. He isn't yet joining that chorus, but he does have a greater sense of what's possible inside the cage.

"I didn't know if I could do it; I'm not going to lie," he said. "But once I got in the tournament, I had to believe in myself."

A Strikeforce tournament alternate in an eight-man field that included four former champs, Cormier, a longtime wrestler and fourth-place finisher at the 2004 Olympics, was seen as a long shot when he replaced Alistair Overeem in the semifinals. A knockout win over Antonio Silva this past September opened more eyes (and broke that right hand). But not until his systematic shutdown of Barnett, a former UFC champ ranked in most top-10 lists, did he cement status as one of the world's best heavyweights and a threat to octagon dwellers everywhere.

"It's been a crazy ride for a year and two months," Cormier said.

Finding the new champ's next opponent could be a tougher task than concluding the oft-delayed grand prix. Prior to the finals, Cormier and Barnett were the only heavyweights officially in Strikeforce, which has seen its roster drained by parent promotion UFC.

"This is the biggest problem," Cormier said. "I don't know how they're going to convince someone to do it. It's going to have to be someone from the outside."

It could, however, be an opponent from Strikeforce's past. Cormier said he gladly would fight Fedor Emelianenko, whom Silva knocked out in the tourney quarterfinals. However, contract negotiations wouldn't likely get far.

"That would be awesome," he said. "Won't happen, though."

Also awesome would be Pedro Rizzo, who's scheduled to fight Emelianenko in June. Or Sergei Kharitonov, who was submitted by Barnett in the semifinals.

"I saw him walk down Overeem and slump him over the ring ropes," Cormier said of Kharitonov. "That would be a great fight. I would fight Kharitonov."

It could be ex-UFC champ Tim Sylvia, who's been campaigning for another chance in the big show.

"No problem at all fighting him," Cormier said. "Any time you can get a win over a guy that held that belt, it's so prestigious."

Off the table is Todd Duffee, whom Cormier trains with at American Kickboxing Academy and who recently earned a first-round knockout with the India-based Super Fight League.

"I don't want to fight Todd," he said.

For now, though, matchmaking is not his problem. Healing up is his next fight.



Source: MMAJunkie

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