Newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier sees a meeting with Brock Lesnar in his future — just maybe not the immediate future.
“DC” became the new ruler of the heavyweight division on Saturday, defeating Stipe Miocic by first-round knockout in the main event of UFC 226 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 39-year-old fighter now holds the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles, having become only the second man — the other being Conor McGregor — to wear UFC belts from two divisions simultaneously.
Immediately after his win, Cormier set the stage for a battle with Lesnar, the former UFC champion who just so happened to be watching from cageside. The two had a heated exchange and it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before their fight becomes official.
Lesnar is currently employed as a professional wrestler by the WWE and has unresolved issues with the USADA that must be addressed as well, so it’s unlikely that he will be able to sign a contract to fight Cormier in 2018. If that’s the case, Cormier doesn’t plan to vacate either title, and he sees himself possibly accepting a highly-anticipated rematch with Alexander Gustafsson if the two-time title challenger makes a statement in his next fight against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227.
“I’m going to take some time, first. I’m going to go spend some time with my wife Selena and my kids and we’re able to do something and hang out a little bit, and we’ll decide,” Cormier said of his plans at UFC 226’s post-fight press conference. “But I’m at a point now where it’s going to be very difficult to fight a Curtis Blaydes or a — I don’t even know who’s coming up at 205, to be honest with you; I don’t really know who.
“Maybe Gustafsson fights well in August, but last time Gustafsson and I fought, we made no money. He’s got all these fans, but nobody buys pay-per-views. So it’s weird, do you want to go to war and make so much less money? I fight Brock Lesnar, I’m getting paid. So I want to fight fights that make sense, so this guy’s going to have to do something very special to earn a fight for the 205-pound belt and I’ll do it. I’ll go down and fight and wait for Brock. So I’ll fight again around November, I can fight again around March and be done.”
March 2019 is when Cormier plans to stop competing in MMA. He turns 40 that month and is ready to slow down after competing at the highest levels of combat sports for most of his adult life, including his days as an NCAA Division I and Olympic wrestler.
Cormier has always been viewed among the best in whatever field he competed in, but he admitted that absolute glory has always eluded him. His run at an NCAA title was stopped by the legendary Cael Sanderson, he came in one spot short of the podium at the 2004 Olympics then was pulled from the 2008 Olympics after weight cutting caused his kidneys to fail, and even his time as a UFC champion has been marked with an asterisk.
In two fights with light heavyweight Jon Jones, Cormier was unable to defeat his rival, although he would eventually witness Jones self-destruct under the weight of legal problems and a pair of failed drug tests. Jones is currently embroiled in a case with the USADA, and Cormier isn’t waiting around for him to come back nor does he feel like he needs the validation that a win over Jones might bring.
“I would if he’s around, but I don’t know if he’s gonna be around,” Cormier said when asked if another crack at Jones still interested him. “Honestly, at this point, does he even deserve it, all these fights? I hold the cards now. You may have won the fights, but I hold the cards. I’m the one that competed.
“I’m the one that went up and did something that you are not going to do. I went and fought the baddest man on the planet, the most successful heavyweight champion of all-time. A great guy, a great champion, a guy that does everything the right way, and I won. So I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
It would be hard to argue that Cormier’s resume isn’t comparable with any of the best to ever step foot in the Octagon, including Jones, indomitable flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, and all-time welterweight great Georges St-Pierre.
And until someone figures out a way to properly settle that debate, Cormier is confident with how his credentials stack up.
“Look, this tonight, for everyone that said you’re a fake champion, you can’t question this one,” Cormier said. “You may question that light heavyweight title, you can question it to the grave, but I have something completely separate from [Jones] and I’m very grateful for it. Because everything was tied to that guy. No matter how much I beat everybody up, it was always, ‘Well, he lost to Jones.’ Now, in this heavyweight division, a division that I never got to complete my journey in, I went and I completed it and I became the champ.
“So I’m a champion. I am one of the greatest fighters of all-time, and I love DJ, and I love GSP, and it’s going to be one of the three of us.”
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