Daniel Cormier has a dark past. The ESPN broadcaster used to beat people up for money. In fact, on this date in 2012, he won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix with a unanimous decision victory over Josh Barnett. It was a Cinderella story as Cormier entered the tournament as something like a 2000-to-1 longshot going by the name of “Other.”
When the SFHWGP started in February of 2011, it featured Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Andrei Arlovski, Sergei Kharitonov, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers. Cormier was in a reserve bout on the second night of the tournament. When Overeem wanted more time to rest between bouts (he ended up fighting Brock Lesnar at UFC 141), Cormier stepped in and beat the crap out of Bigfoot Silva and earn a spot in the final.
Between the time the tournament began and Cormier was crowned, Strikeforce was purchased by the UFC. The UFC officially killed Strikeforce in January 2013. A few months later Cormier made his UFC debut. He would be UFC light heavyweight champion by May 2015.
Another five years and he’s evolved from an alternate in a historic tournament to one of the best commentators in all of sports. Maybe he’d be in the same position if Strikeforce had gone with another reserve, but maybe not. All we know for sure is that the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix lives on whenever D.C. takes the mic on an ESPN broadcast. Eight years ago that would have sounded insane.