Even the MMA analysts who saw Joe Warren’s star potential did not think he would be this impressive this early on. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, here in the States, the self-proclaimed “Baddest Man on the Planet” defeated perennial pound-for-pound fighter, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. In only his second MMA fight, Warren relied mostly on his wrestling skill and took the fight by decision.
Wrestlers crossing over into MMA is almost as old as the sport itself. The accomplishments of these wrestlers are so well documented, that there is no need to go through them once again. Now, it seems as if any person who won more wrestling matches than they lost is considered to be world-class.
Recently two actual world-class wrestling stylists, Muhammed Lawal and Joe Warren, have made stunning advancements in the MMA world since crossing over. Even though these are two fighters Mike Goldberg could get away with calling “world-class” neither one was actually a member of the 2008 United States Olympic team – although Warren deserved to be.
With the early success of Lawal and Warren, the MMA punditry has been wondering who the next cross over star will be. As always PRO MMA (promma.info) tries to keep fans in the loop. On the eve of this weekend’s 2009 wrestling world team trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa, here is an Olympic wrestler who could someday make an impact on the MMA world.
Although he entered his international wrestling career without an NCAA title, Daniel Cormier has become a fixture on the US national team for the last five years.
Cormier began his wrestling career by winning three Louisiana state high school titles. He then passed up an opportunity to play division one football, and instead chose to wrestle for Colby Community College. It turned out to be a good decision, in two seasons, he went 61-0 and won to NJCAA titles.
After his junior college career, Cormier transferred to wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State, which is run by Olympic legend John Smith. As previously stated he was unable to score an NCAA title, but the roadblock his senior year was Cael Sanderson. Cormier pushed the future gold medalist, but ended up with a runner up finish.
Since 2003, Cormier has made every US national team in freestyle wrestling. This includes the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. Highlights of his career include making it to the semifinals of the 2004 games and a bronze medal at the 2007 world championships. Sadly, Cormier had trouble making weight for the 2008 games and had to bow out due to potential kidney failure without even wrestling a match.
Those who think any wrestler with serious credentials is destined for MMA success need only to look at Eldari Kurtanidze, Istvan Majoros, or Kevin Jackson. Not only do quality wrestlers need proper training, but also they need a style that is conducive to MMA.
Daniel Cormier wrestles with an extremely physical and grinding style. On the first season of the short-lived Real Pro Wrestling, Cormier was actually fined for being too violent in his victory over Tommy Rowlands. Also, much like Joe Warren, most of his offense comes off the front headlock. The controlling hold could easily translate into a dirty boxing and knee game.
It is unclear yet if Cormier is planning on going to the 2012 Olympics. During the build up for Beijing, the 29-year-old continually spoke of MMA positively, but at the same time he made it clear wrestling in the Olympics was his dream. Fans and MMA pundits will have to wait and see if he makes the switch, but if he does, he should be the next converted wrestling to shake up the MMA landscape.