Daniel Cormier is currently the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. With a self-imposed deadline of March 20, 2019 (his 40th birthday) for his retirement, Cormier has little time left to squeeze in one or two more fights on his resume.
Following his UFC 226 victory over Stipe Miocic, Cormier and returning former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar squared off in the Octagon and built up a future blockbuster bout between them. When that happened, nearly everyone expected that it would be the next bout for Cormier, and likely his last, given his own time constraints and the amount of money the bout is expected to generate.
UFC light heavyweights across the board began calling for Cormier to either defend his 205-pound belt or vacate. It seems he was listening.
“(Lesnar) will be the last one. He’ll be the last fight of my career,” Cormier told MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin in a recent interview. “Will he be next? I don’t know. I hope so, but I’ve still got a belt to defend at 205 [pounds] to think about.”
Cormier is currently healing a broken hand, but should be ready to fight well before Lesnar is clear of his U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspension, which doesn’t come to fulfillment until January of 2019. So it’s possible that Cormier might get a light heavyweight title defense in by year’s end and then still face Lesnar by March.
“It’s going to be difficult, but as a professional, you have to approach every fight the same exact way,” said Cormier. “I would prepare myself to win and to defend the title. Any time you’re in a UFC title fight, it’s a big deal, and for anybody to say they aren’t up for it is crazy. You’re a professional. You’re a fighter. You have to get up for these events.”
It’s unclear whom Cormier would fight. He hasn’t sounded too excited about fighting Jon Jones again, and Jones is still dealing with the adjudication of his most recent UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation anyway. He also recently said that he wouldn’t fight Alexander Gustafsson again because he is disappointed in how “entitled” Gustafsson has become.
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Volkan Oezdemir, whom Gustafsson was slated to fight at UFC 227 in August, is currently sidelined with a broken nose, so it is unclear if he would be able to fight. Shogun Rua recently lost to Anthony Smith, who could become the de facto challenger if everyone else is out of the picture.
As of right now, Cormier’s immediate future is still clouded by a shadow of doubt, so we’ll have to wait and see if his next move will definitively be a light heavyweight title defense or if he’ll fight Lesnar and ride off into the sunset.