Quicker than expected? Maybe. But Dan Cormier earned his place on this list. | Photo: Sherdog.com
The MMA world isn't surprised that Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold joined its elite. However, the fact the two American Kickboxing Academy standouts did it so soon is another story.
Sept. 10, both up-and-coming talents from San Jose, Calif.'s proudest fight gym turned their potential into prosper, grabbing big wins at the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix semifinals in Cincinnati.
Cormier, less than two years into his MMA career, blew away Antonio Silva in the first round of their heavyweight contest. A reserve in the Strikeforce GP, some thought Cormier could pull the upset with his Olympic-calibre wrestling. Instead, it was the hands of "D.C." that spelled disaster for the mammoth Brazilian in just under four minutes.
Rockhold, meanwhile, took the full 25 minutes to earn the Strikeforce middleweight championship from Ronaldo Souza, but that made it all the better. In his first fight in 19 months due to a spate of injuries, Rockhold came on strong in the final 15 minutes to add yet another piece of hardware to the AKA trophy case.
And, the week past wasn't only notable for the action that happened, but the action to come. A plethora of new fights are bound for the Octagon in the final months of 2011, but no news has greater impact to this list than Nick Diaz exiting his UFC 137 title shot against Georges St. Pierre to face B.J. Penn, with Carlos Condit fighting in his stead -- a debacle involving four top-10 welterweights.
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