Daniel Cormier has made it clear he only has a few fights left before retirement. With a UFC Hall of Fame spot waiting for him, the UFC heavyweight champ doesn’t feel he has much left to prove, but will continue fighting as long as he finds ways to keep motivated.
“The motivation needs to change,” Cormier told MMA Junkie Radio. “Before, it was, ‘I’m going to go and become a double champion.’ Now I need to go and defend this title again and go beat one of the best heavyweights of all-time for a second time. This is not easy.”
Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) is set to rematch Stipe Miocic (18-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) in the main event of UFC 241 in August. “DC” moved up to heavyweight for an opportunity to become double champion last summer and defeated Miocic by first round knockout at UFC 226 to capture the title.
Since then, Cormier has defended his title in a dominant second-round submission win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November. Meanwhile, since losing the title to Cormier, Miocic has remained on the sidelines campaigning for a rematch.
Cormier believed his win over Lewis was going to secure a long-desired big money fight with Brock Lesnar, but the UFC failed to reach an agreement with Lesnar. That opened the door for the rematch with Miocic, who’s recorded more consecutive title defenses than any heavyweight champ in UFC history before dropping the strap.
It seems impossible for Cormier to top his first performance versus Miocic – which saw him score a knockout courtesy of a devastating blow in the clinch – but Cormier believes there are many ways to win a fight.
“Ultimately, it’s always about winning the fight,” Cormier said. “Get the job done, but if there’s any way to improve, then try to improve. I mean, can I find a submission? Can I find a way to take advantage of the same type of mistake that he may have made prior?
“I spoke about a mistake that Stipe made constantly, consistently, and I was able to capitalize on it but maybe there’s something else we’re seeing that we didn’t have to do last fight that I can use in this one,” Cormier added. “There are a lot of different ways to try and win a fight.”
UFC 241 takes place Aug. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim. Cormier vs. Miocic headlines the pay-per-view main card following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.
After defeating Lewis in November, Cormier underwent back surgery from a freak accident that occurred when he sneezed. It turned out that he had a disc that was bulging out of his back, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Having already postponed his retirement plans from March, Cormier said he was unsure if the surgery will add greater longevity to his career. He said he expects to physically feel a lot better than he did in his first fight versus Miocic.
“I anticipate being a better version of myself,” Cormier said. “In the fight last year, there were many days where I was lumbering into practice, barely able to stand tall and now I’m walking around straight, I feel good daily. Every day I feel better. I feel physically better so I’d imagine that would lead to better results.”
A win over Miocic would secure Cormier his second title defense at heavyweight, one short of the record held by Miocic. He’s already in the running for greatest heavyweight of all-time, but Cormier insists it’s not his body of work, but rather that of his teammate, Cain Velasquez, that deserves that title.
“Stipe’s got a great record (but) I think Cain Velasquez to this day is still the greatest UFC heavyweight of all-time,” Cormier said. “But I think as I continue to build on my resume in this division, my legacy will stand alongside anyone else in this division as ever seen.”
A pivotal heavyweight fight is set to take place this Saturday at the UFC on ESPN 3 headliner in Minneapolis, when Francis Ngannou (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) takes on Junior Dos Santos (21-4 MMA, 15-4 UFC), a fight that could very well determine the next heavyweight title contender.
Ngannou knocked out Velasquez in under 30 seconds in February, and while Cormier sees a possible fight with Ngannou to avenge his teammate’s loss, he said he’s not overlooking Miocic.
“I don’t see past Stipe Miocic so if I get passed Miocic and I go, ‘I want to do this again,’ then maybe I do go and beat Ngannou if he won his fight,” Cormier said. “Getting through this one is what needs to happen and I’m trying to solely focus on this fight.”
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