Seven months after he broke his right hand, Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier (9-0 MMA, 6-0 SF) is still unsure of when he'll be ready to fight Josh Barnett (31-5 MMA, 2-0 SF).
"I would imagine they would wait, and I think they should," Cormier told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I think Strikeforce needs some closure to that division."
Cormier is today scheduled for an MRI, and he expects to get a final word on when and if he can fight. Until then, he can't commit to any timetable for return.
"I'm not sure if I re-hurt myself at some point, but when it is completely healed, we're ready to go," he said.
As finalists in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, Cormier and Barnett were expected to headline an event scheduled for March 3 in Columbus, Ohio. But on Tuesday, officials announced a women's bantamweight title fight between champ Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey as the top-billed fight.
"Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey" takes place at Nationwide Arena and airs live on Showtime.
That leaves in the lurch the finals of the eight-man competition, which kicked off this past February in East Rutherford, N.J. Neither Cormier or Barnett is sure of when the fight will take place.
"Zuffa said they would like Josh's next fight to be Cormier," Barnett's manager, Leland Labarre, said. "We are patiently waiting for that to happen."
In recent months, Cormier helped several of his teammates prepare for fights at American Kickboxing Academy. He said he wrestled and did jiu-jitsu but babied his hand.
Whether his current plight is the result of that generosity is unknown. But Cormier isn't taking any chances with his hand.
"It's just you have to be really careful with an injury like that because if I re-injure myself, I'm out another six months," he said. "It's six months since I fought last, and I'm itching to get in the cage, but Josh is too dangerous to go and fight him and not have all my weapons. I go and fight him and I break my hand in the first round, and how am I supposed to fight this guy for four rounds, when I truly believe he's one of the best fighters in the world."
Nevertheless, Cormier laments the amount of time he's already spent on the bench. His current layoff owes to his most recent fight, when he knocked out Antonio Silva this past June to win a trip to the tournament finals. Originally an alternate in the tournament, he fought three times this past year and five in 2010.
"I have every desire to fight as many times as I can," Cormier said. "But if in 2012 I can fight three times, I'll fight three times. It's very frustrating to not be able to do the things I was doing, and I'm not improving at the rate that I think I was before."
Undefeated at 9-0, former Olympian Cormier has been one of Strikeforce's success stories. A win over Barnett in the finals would undoubtedly put him in a good position when the promotion shutters its heavyweight division. But for now, he has to wait some more.