NEW YORK (September 9, 2009) – Two-time United States Olympic wrestling team member and former NCAA Division I national championship runner up Daniel Cormier will make his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut at the STRIKEFORCE: Challengers event at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s SpiritBank Event Center on Friday, September 25.
Cormier (0-0) will face an opponent that has yet to be determined on the live SHOWTIME televised portion of the first-ever STRIKEFORCE card in the state of Oklahoma.
“I think it’s an honor to be fighting for one of the top organizations in the world,” said Cormier, who celebrated his 30th birthday on March 20.
Since graduating from Oklahoma State University (OSU) with a degree in sociology in 2001, Cormier has continued to follow his passion for playing human chess on the mat, earning a place on the 2004 and 2008 United States Olympic wrestling teams.
“Making the first Olympic team was like a culmination of everything I had worked for,” said Cormier, who took fourth place in The Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece in 2004, but was unable to compete in the 2008 games due to injury. “I’m a guy who really wants to make his mother proud and this made her so proud. I could see the joy and pride in her.”
His storied run as an amateur wrestler began in high school where Cormier was a three-time state champion in his native Louisiana, compiling a remarkable 101-9 record over four years of competition.
Before joining OSU’s powerhouse squad that has won a remarkable 34 national wrestling championships since its first season in 1914, Cormier stopped off at Colby Community College where he captured the junior college national championship two years in a row. His unyielding commitment to the sport stems from the fortitude it has added to his character, according to Cormier.
“Wrestling’s a sport that teaches you how to be strong physically and mentally,” explained Cormier. “It really molds you and makes you take responsibility for your actions. If you don’t train hard, it’s going to be you out there getting embarrassed.”
Cormier recently relocated to San Jose, California in order to train at the famed American Kickboxing Academy, also home to STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson and MMA superstars Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, amongst others.
Of his decision to step into the cage, Cormier said, “I haven’t done anything since the Olympics and that competitor fire in me started to build and build last year. When I started feeling that, I started pursuing all avenues.”
Tickets for the STRIKEFORCE: Challengers event, priced from $25, are on sale at SpiritBank Event Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
In the main event on September 25, American military hero Tim Kennedy (10-2) of Fayetteville, North Carolina will face unbeaten Zak Cummings (10-0) of Springfield, Missouri in a middleweight (185 pounds) contest.
K-1 legend and six-time world kickboxing champion, Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo (1-0), who hails from New Zealand and fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada, will take on Alabama-born Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan (11-7) in a heavyweight match.
Budding superstar and two-time All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri, Tyron “T-Wood’’ Woodley (5-0) of St. Louis, will face his sternest test to date when he meets former Tito Ortiz protégé, Zach “The Lisbon Outlaw’’ Light (4-8) of Huntington Beach, California in a welterweight (170 pounds) fight.
Amongst the Oklahomans scheduled to appear on the card are Tulsa rivals Travis “The Dark Knight” Calanoc (4-0) and Thomas Longacre (4-0), who will put their unbeaten records on the line against each other.
SpiritBank Event Center doors will open at 7:15 p.m. CT for the STRIKEFORCE: Challengers event and the first preliminary bout will begin at 8 p.m.
The live SHOWTIME telecast, which will include up to five bouts, will begin at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
World championship MMA promotion STRIKEFORCE will produce the event at SpiritBank Event Center along with eXtreme Fighting promoter and five-time world kickboxing champion Dale “Apollo” Cook.
STRIKEFORCE: Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. The series is designed to provide today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.
STRIKEFORCE (www.strikeforce.com) is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, STRIKEFORCE has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of STRIKEFORCE, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose.