Led by Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson, the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter is underway, and the UFC’s heavyweight division is squarely back in focus. Although reigning champion Junior dos Santos has proven himself to be the most dominant force in the division in recent memory, he is undoubtedly standing his ground amid a hail of oncoming adversaries, all of whom possess knockout power and an ability to alter the outcome of any fi ght in the blink of an eye. As the cameras role on the hijinks in the TUF house, and the friction between the rival coaches and fi ghters plays out to the reality fans at home, other dangerous men await in the wings for their crack at the biggest, baddest belt in the UFC. From veteran K-1 crossover Alistair Overeem, to former UFC Champion Cain Velasquez, to emerging young stars like Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic, the UFC’s heavyweight division hasn’t been this exciting is quite some time.
And that’s why it’s easy for casual fans to overlook the one man that may very well be the most dangerous challenger of them all—Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier. Like many of the UFC’s top talent, Cormier posesses a wrestling pedigree of the highest order. A former NCAA Division-I standout and two-time Olympian, Cormier needed only to fi nd his striking muse in order to make the transition to MMA—and did he ever. After stepping in as an alternate during the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix earlier in the year, Cormier stormed through the remaining competitors to take the top prize, improving his record to 10-0 along the way. With four victories by KO/TKO and three by submission (two of which were due to strikes, by the way), Cormier has proven his salt and shown that not only can he control where he wants the fight to take place, but that he can finish it in any location as well. At 5’11, the barrel-chested fighter may not be the most intimidating heavyweight in appearance, but make no mistake, Daniel Cormier is a monster with a skill set that poses problems for whomever he faces next.