With UFC 210 now just days away, the time is perfect to ponder over Daniel Cormier’s standing within the MMA elite of the world and how it may well change with an emphatic win this weekend.
The UFC’s light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has become something of a polarising figure to the world’s MMA fan base. On one hand, you have those who appreciate what he brings to table every time he steps into the octagon and are aware of the highly impressive nature of his near-perfect career and stellar accomplishments over the past decade or so.
On the other hand, however, there are those – and they are plenty in number – who would deny DC such high esteem. They are the very same people who hold contempt for the likes of Demian Maia and his own smothering style of grappling and they are those whose own biases have allowed their opinion of Cormier as a person to cloud their judgment of him as a fighter.
Cormier’s career will always be tarnished somewhat by his role as the villain in the soon-to-be legendary Jon Jones saga, and though he came away from their 2015 meeting in defeat, his opportunity to avenge what was the sole loss of his career may end up slipping away from him through no fault of his own.
Despite this, Cormier’s legacy has already been solidified in my eyes, and with a win over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson this weekend, Cormier has a chance to establish himself as the sport’s pound-for-pound number one.
The three fighters who currently occupy spots in the UFC’s top three P4P rankings are Demetrious Johnson, Conor McGregor and our man DC.
Johnson, who fights in the flyweight division, is well on course to establishing himself as one of the greatest to ever do it, if he hasn’t already, but despite his nine consecutive title defences, the promotion’s talent at 125lbs just doesn’t compare to the pedigree of some of the guys Cormier has faced over the years.
If we’re to assume that the P4P rankings work in the same manner as the rankings for each weight-class, the fighters listed on it are sorted according to their respective résumés and recent wins/losses. Of course, if the rankings worked based on the actual technical and physical skill of the fighters then, of course, Johnson would be a shoo-in for first place but if this logic holds up, I would have to give the edge to Cormier based on the calibre of his opponents.
Many forget that DC had an unbeaten run at heavyweight when he fought in Strikeforce and just after he signed with the UFC, a run that saw him best former champions in Josh Barnett and Frank Mir, and men who dwarfed him physically in the likes of Roy Nelson and Bigfoot Silva.
His time as a light heavyweight has seen him achieve stoppage victories over the former two-time PRIDE and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson and the man who many consider to be the greatest knockout artist of all time, Anthony Johnson, and in defeating Anderson Silva and Alexander Gustafsson he thwarted two of the trickiest strikers the heavier weight classes have to offer.
Now, I’m not saying that Johnson’s résumé is not impressive but when you compare what Cormier has been able to achieve against several legitimate former champions and legends, it’s easy to see how DJ falls just short.
McGregor’s inclusion in the top three P4P fighters in the world is a consequence of the fact that he obliterated two world champions in the space of a year, and despite the fact that I’m not disputing his placement, if his wins over both Eddie Alvarez and José Aldo hold enough merit to jump him past the likes of Stipe Miocic, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Dominick Cruz (before his loss to Cody Garbrandt) despite the fact that he is yet to defend his title (and has lost in the last year), then there must be some truth to the fact that the level of opponents you are facing holds some weight.
I realise these rankings are voted upon by the media and are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things but, like it or not, they’re a constant talking point and if Cormier does indeed defeat the only (active) fighter in the light heavyweight division who is realistically a threat to him right now, his spot as the consensus pound-for-pound number one in the world should be set in stone.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena