I’m not sure if Dion Staring has a nickname or not but the one thing I think everyone in the MMA media collectively thought when he was named as Daniel Cormier’s final opponent in Strikeforce was “Who the heck is that guy?”
Fight breakdown – Daniel Cormier has the best wrestling pedigree of anyone currently in Zuffa right now and a slick boxing game that’s ever improving. And his game plan is simple: box you up then get the takedown, go for the finish via strikes. His wrestling is good enough that he can dictate where the fight takes place. His hands are good enough to keep it standing if that’s where he wants to as well. And on the surface this looks like an old WWF Saturday Morning match where they feed a guy who doesn’t get an introduction to someone they’re trying to market as a big name. Or actually is a big name.
Dion Staring actually has a solid pedigree before you look at his record … or nearly anything else about him. He’s a Dutch Golden Glory product and sparring partner for Alistair Overeem who has had a fairly successful campaign in Europe before coming over to fight with the Blackzillians out of Florida. The gym may not produce elite level guys by the gallon but they do produce tough, skilled guys who won’t embarrass themselves inside a cage or a ring. He doesn’t have a substantial kickboxing career to note but he has a lot of stoppages via strikes; he’s a bit long in the tooth to really still be a prospect considering he started in the game early and has a fairly substantial career in a whole lot of places.
This is the point where you’ll want to look at his record.
He’s essentially the Crash Davis of Euro-MMA at this point; he’s fought against some elite guys but never really got to the big show. For those who don’t remember that reference he’s Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham, one of the great sports films of all time. He was based off a character that set a dubious record of hitting the most home runs in a minor league career and Staring is kind of that guy. His record looks impressive as a statistic but when you break it down … well … it gets a bit hard to think of him as a challenge.
He never fought in Pride and the biggest promotions he’s been in have been Jungle Fights out of Brazil and KSW out of Poland. Not a bad accomplishment, don’t kid yourself, but if you have any modicum of talent being Alistair Overeem’s sparring partner would’ve gotten you a cup of coffee somewhere. His highest level opponent in 35 fights was Little Nog in Jungle Fights … and Lil Nog blew him out of the water. Everyone else has been journeymen, regional fighters and other guys who weren’t all that good but thought they could be.
Staring never got the hype train of being that in the UFC and then subsequently get blown out of the water by Gabriel Gonzaga, who has a knack of beating down high profile sparring partners. Overeem’s big brother got a cup of coffee in Strikeforce despite not showing any degree of talent as his brother in recent times; it says a lot about him that he could have a fairly substantial career and have that noteworthy accomplishment but is nearing 40 fights before he gets a shot. That tells you almost all you need to know about him coming in to this fight; he was another gym guy and not a high level sparring partner.
Staring’s a career regional fighter who’s exceptional at beating everyone he should at light heavyweight or heavyweight but gets blown out of the water by anyone with a lot of talent. A good way to look at his record is that he’s beaten mostly guys without Wikipedia pages. It kind of feels like the sort of fight that Cormier could work on his rubber guard if he so chooses.
Staring’s best chance is to keep it standing, to force Cormier into a brawl, and test out the Olympic wrestler’s chin. If Cormier gets him to the ground he’ll probably stay there as long as Cormier wants.
Why it matters – A big, emphatic win here for Cormier continues the hype train for him. This is another day at the office for him and the key here is to get the win, hope it’s impressive and come out relatively unscathed. Cormier doesn’t get much by winning here outside of another paycheck and whatnot. It’s another highlight to put on the hype reel, nothing more.
Staring has nothing to lose here. If he gets blown out of the water it’s expected; if he puts up a decent fight in defeat he might have earned another shot either in the UFC or Bellator. If he wins … it’ll be the biggest upset of 2013, bar none.
Prediction – Cormier by KO