It has to be fight week for highly ranked heavyweight Daniel Cormier, because no one will find a man more excited these days than him.
Nothing gets Cormier's juices flowing like a fight. He loves competition -- the tougher the opposition, the better.
Cormier faces a relative unknown in Dion Staring on Saturday night in Oklahoma City in what will be Strikeforce's final event. While a fight with Staring wouldn't normally push Cormier's excitement to peak levels, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner hasn't been in the cage since May, when he claimed the tournament title with a lopsided unanimous decision over Josh Barnett.
An involuntary eight-month layoff is a long time for Cormier, so he is ready for the opportunity to again put his fists into another man's face.
"I'm a competitor. I love competition," the 10-0 Cormier told ESPN.com. "I want to get the rush of the emotions of going out there and fighting or wrestling. I want the rush of competition.
"It's the best gift that anyone can give me -- the ability to compete on a consistent basis. That's all I want."
It's also the reason Cormier can't wait for Saturday's bout. No disrespect to Staring -- he's the guy who said "yes" when Zuffa LLC officials offered him the fight.
Staring (28-7) isn't as high-profile as Cormier's original opponent, former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, but he always comes to fight.
What Staring might lack in physical skill and level of competition he makes up for with determination and aggression and will come to fight. Cormier is looking forward to facing an opponent who doesn't back down.
While Cormier is giving Staring the high-profile-opponent treatment, he is extremely confident of victory. When the horn sounds to start the three-round bout, Cormier intends to put a vicious beating on Staring.
Cormier will attack the heavy-handed Staring as if he is trying to derail the personal goals Cormier has mapped out for his not-too-distant future. After helping to pull the curtain down on Strikeforce, Cormier will turn his full attention to becoming a UFC champion.
He’s a fight, maybe two at most, from landing a title shot; Cormier knows that much. What he can't say definitively is who will be opposite him in the Octagon on championship night, other than it won't be current UFC heavyweight titleholder and training partner Cain Velasquez, who enlists Cormier as his wrestling coach.
UFC can't put enough money on the table to persuade these two to square off in the cage. That just isn't going to happen.
But Cormier has a Plan B in place when UFC calls with a title-shot offer. He will drop to 205 to fight light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
While it's a tentative plan, here’s how Plan B works: Cormier dismantles Staring -- as most expect he will -- before taking on Mir. Being that Cormier would like to fight every three or four months, the bout with Mir could take place sometime in April, with a source telling ESPN.com the fight could likely find its way to San Jose, Calif.
Regardless of when or where the fight happens, a victory over Mir would put Cormier smack dab in the center of the heavyweight title picture. That's when Cormier will need to finalize his career path.
With former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and top UFC contender Alistair Overeem recently cleared to resume his fighting career, a win Feb. 2 over Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva is sure to earn him a title bout with Velasquez.
Cormier will be watching that bout closely with his next move hinging on the outcome.
"That's when I have to make my decision," Cormier said. "I have to sit there and watch Overeem fight Cain and hope with everything in my body that Cain can beat him. I'm hoping that Cain can keep his belt and I move down to 205 by the end of the year. I would love to just go fight for that [light heavyweight] belt."
Cormier has already begun weighing in lighter for his heavyweight bouts. He checked in for his fight against Barnett in May at a lean 238 pounds.
He says the weight cut for that fight wasn't difficult and that he'll continue preparing himself for a possible high-profile showdown with Jones. Expect him to tip the scale under 240 pounds for Saturday's fight against Staring before weighing even less if an April tilt with Mir materializes.
By the time he potentially meets Jones later this year, an excited Cormier said he expects to be faster, more agile and just as strong.
"[Cutting to 205 pounds] would be tough," Cormier said, "but I would cut a lot of weight for wrestling. I would weigh in at 5 p.m. and wrestle at 9 a.m. If I weigh in at 4 p.m. [for MMA] and have more than 30 hours to recover and get my body back to feeling good, I should be OK. Thirty hours is a really long time.
"If anything, it's going to help me athletically. As I lose weight, I get faster. I can only imagine that I will be faster as I keep going down. But with that being said, even if I was to go down there and get a championship fight, it's an uphill battle. It's not like I'm going down there to fight somebody easier than the champion in the heavier division. Jon Jones is a tough hill to climb. It will be a very tough fight, but I will be up for it."
Nothing gets Cormier more excited than thoughts of becoming a UFC champion. The final few steps toward achieving that goal start Saturday night in Oklahoma City.