Very few fighters at the highest level of MMA hold unbeaten records. The number of unbeaten fighters who haven’t yet found themselves in the slightest bit of danger is a tiny subset of that.
Khabib Nurmagomedov won a controversial decision over Gleison Tibau. Jon Jones nearly lost an arm to Vitor Belfort, and looked more than human against Alexander Gustafsson. Bellator champion Ben Askren barely survived a Lyman Good upkick.
Undefeated UFC heavyweight Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier is one of the few who can say nobody has even come close.
The former Olympic wrestler entered MMA with some fanfare, but great wrestling credentials don’t always equal guaranteed success. Just ask Jake Rosholt, Jordan Radev, and the recently defeated Bubba Jenkins.
With the leadership of Dave Camarillo and Bob Cook over at the American Kickboxing Academy, and great training partners like current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Cormier has quickly progressed from just an elite wrestler, to a truly elite mixed martial artist.
Cormier quietly went 7-0 to begin his MMA career, and onlookers knew he had potential, but nobody was quite sure how far he could go. A dominant win over Jeff Monson in the reserve bout of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix opened eyes, but he still wasn’t considered a top ten threat.
However, with Alistair Overeem leaving Strikeforce to go over to the UFC, a tournament slot opened, and Cormier would finally get his step up. His opponent? A giant Brazilian who cuts weight to make 265, and had just battered Fedor Emelianenko, the man widely considered the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Many expected the fight against Antonio Silva to be competitive, but the general consensus was that the Brazilian to be too much, too soon for Cormier. Instead, Cormier parlayed an overhand right knockdown into a brutal uppercut knockout, securing his way to the tournament finals against Josh Barnett.
By now, Cormier was already widely considered a top ten heavyweight, and he left no doubt against Barnett in 2012, thoroughly dominating his opponent on the feet and with repeated takedowns, never finding himself in any real danger.
With the official Strikeforce merger, Cormier finally came over to the UFC and fought Frank Mir in April. While the win was not as exciting as fans had come to expect, Cormier easily cruised past Mir for three rounds en route to a dominant decision.
Now, Cormier finds himself in an interesting spot.
The matchmaking against Roy Nelson seems a bit strange. Cormier is unbeaten and is ranked #2 on the UFC’s official rankings, whereas Nelson is ranked #9, and coming off a loss. In reality, nothing good comes for Cormier out of this fight. He’s expected to win easily, and if anything else happens, his stock will fall in the minds of the public.
With a win over Roy Nelson, he has the choice of contesting for a title at either heavyweight or 205 pounds, although reports indicate that he will likely drop down to the light-heavyweight division.
Whether Nelson will be able to shake, and possibly shatter Cormier’s invincible aura is a great reason to watch this fight, but a win is a win, and no matter what, a superfight with Jon Jones would make for a great superfight in 2014.