The former Oklahoma State All-American defeated Josh Barnett by unanimous decision in the culminating event for the nearly year-and-a-half Grand Prix tournament held at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Saturday night.
Cormier, 33, won all five rounds of the match. One judge scored the bout 49-46, while two others had it 50-45, all for the former Cowboy wrestler.
In its live play-by-play of the heavyweight finals, the MMA (mixed martial arts) website Sherdog.com also scored the fight 50-45 for Cormier.
Former UFC champ Barnett, 34, had a ten-pound weight advantage (248 pounds to 238 for Cormier), a four-inch height advantage (6'3" to 5'11"), and four times as many professional MMA bouts (36 to 9). However, Cormier managed to bloody Barnett's face in the second round. By Round 4, "Barnett's face is an absolute mess," Sherdog.com reported in its live coverage. Cormier did not escape unscathed; he suffered a large contusion under his left eye in Round 1.
Cormier's path to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix started 15 months ago, when he was substituted for Alistair Overeem. Last September, Cormier knocked out Antonio "Big Foot" Silva in the opening round of their Strikeforce semifinals match in Cincinnati.
Cormier brought an impressive amateur wrestling background into this fight. The Louisiana native was a two-time NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) champ at Colby Community College in Kansas, then transferred to Division I powerhouse Oklahoma State. Cormier earned All-American honors by making it to the 184-pound finals of the 2001 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, where he lost to Iowa State's Cael Sanderson (now head coach at Penn State). In addition to his college credentials, Cormier earned a place on the U.S. freestyle team for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Cormier was also crowned champ in the 211-pound weight class in RealProWrestling in 2005.
Want to know more? Check out Sherdog.com's live play-by-play account of the Barnett-Cormier bout.... and the recaps from Sherdog, SB Nation and ESPN.com.
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