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Looking at Daniel Cormier’s debut

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DALLAS, TX - JUNE 18:  Daniel Cormier (black shorts) punches Jeff Monson during a Heavyweight bout at the Strikeforce event at American Airlines Center on June 18, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Esther Lin/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 18: Daniel Cormier (black shorts) punches Jeff Monson during a Heavyweight bout at the Strikeforce event at American Airlines Center on June 18, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Esther Lin/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images)

The last two weeks in the Ultimate Fighting Championship has seen two highly touted prospects make their Octagon debuts – with mixed results. Last week featherweight Conor McGregor made a stunning start to his UFC career dismantling Marcus Brimage in just 67 seconds. Whilst this past weekend “TUF” hotshot Uriah Hall took on fellow Team Sonnen fighter Kelvin Gastelum, losing a split decision. Next Saturday will make it three weeks in a row as the UFC on FOX card will see yet another UFC debutant with a big reputation – Daniel Cormier.

There is no doubt Cormier is the most experienced fighter of the three. The Oklahoma State University Alum is a two time Olympian – finishing 4th in 2004 Athens games – and former team USA wrestling captain. Cormier, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, is riding an eleven fight win streak since switching codes, with emphatic victories over former UFC Heavyweight titleholder Josh Barnett as well as current UFC Heavyweight number one contender Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on his way to winning the Strikeforce grand prix. A competition which he started out in as a replacement. And although Cormier has undeniable experience he is still a relative newcomer to MMA.

“DC” has hinted at dropping down to the light-heavyweight division but his maiden UFC fight will be at heavyweight. The reason behind the 265 lbs fight is he and his opponent Frank Mir have unfinished business. The pair were scheduled to headline a Strikeforce card on November 3rd last but when Mir was injured the fight was cancelled and Cormier went on to defeat Dion Staring in the last ever Strikeforce event.

When Cormier takes on two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir this Saturday he will do so in his adopted home town of San Jose in what is a truly intriguing matchup. Cormier has shown improving standup skills in his last few fights but at the end of the day he is still a wrestler at heart and if he chooses to seek the takedown it could play into the strengths of opponent. Mir, who is now training in Albuquerque under famed coaches Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson, is a jiu-jitsu specialist who has submitted a wide array of opponents. His victims include Brock Lesnar, Tim Sylvia, Cheick Kongo and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and one would have to think Mir will be more than happy to play the ground game with the wrestler.

The winning and losing of this fight will be in the control. If Cormier can manage to get position on the ground, get off some of his vicious ‘ground and pound’ and avoid the submission he must be favourite to win. Avoiding the submission, though, is easier said than done. Mir won’t be without a chance and will attack limbs at every opportunity he gets against an opponent he knows will not have the same level of jit-jitsu.

Although this fight contains two men in the top ten of the official UFC rankings it doesn’t look like either will be fighting for a heavyweight title any time soon. Mir’s last fight was for his third UFC title against Junior Dos Santos. It was a fight which the Las Vegas native lost via 2nd round knockout. Since then Dos Santos has gone on to lose the 265 lbs strap to Cain Velasquez at UFC 155. Velasquez is a teammate of Cormier and both have promised they will never fight.

Saturday will see Mir fighting to maintain his status as a top 10 UFC heavyweight and Cormier fighting to prove himself at the highest level and start off, what promises to be a glittering UFC career, with a win. But as they say, what glitters isn’t always gold. As the last two weeks have shown making your UFC debut can be a tricky task and Cormier will have to put in his maximum effort to come out with a win over veteran Frank Mir.

Fight Booth's Irish correspondent writing about all things MMA. Catch my event reviews after every UFC and Cage Warriors show. Follow me on twitter - @SeanSheehanBA

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