Just a week after defending his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight title by stopping Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 (video), Daniel Cormier was booked to face off against heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic at the upcoming UFC 226 pay-per-view (PPV) event on July 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada (details).
After initially brushing off the request, “DC” explained it wasn’t until after he had a talk with Cain Velasquez and got his blessing that he decided to move forward with the fight, which includes a stint as coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) leading up to the event.
“When it was proposed to me it was like, I really don’t want to fight at heavyweight, I don’t want to interrupt what’s happening with Cain,” explained Cormier on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “Then I started talking to him (Cain), and he said ‘I don’t think that they will give me a title shot right away, so I think it would be a great idea. You’ve done it before and it’s a chance for you to make history.’ And I was like, “let’s do it.’”
For Daniel, beating Stipe will be the culmination of a career that has not only seen him win the 205-pound UFC title, but win the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix. Winning the 265-pound belt will be the cherry on top and secure his legacy.
“When I think of a fight against Stipe, it’s tough and it’s difficult mountain for me to climb. But the reality is that I have always talked about competition and legacy. And when you think about legacy, if I am able to pull this off there is no denying what I have meant to this sport and what I will leave behind when I am done,” he added.
“I’m a dream chaser. I’m trying to do something that’s unheard of. I know there has been two-division champions before, Randy Couture had the light heavyweight and Heavyweight belt but didn’t do it at the same time. Conor McGregor is the biggest star in MMA and he held two titles at one time. And I’m about to actually do that, too.”
It will be a tall mountain to climb indeed, as Miocic also put an exclamation point on his most recent, record-breaking title defense by dominating Francis Ngannou, also at UFC 220. And while “DC” wants to cement his own legacy before he retires next year, Stipe also wants to continue to add to his.
As for his future at 205 pounds, Cormier says he has no plans on abandoning his spot as the division king with his upcoming jump to the land of the big men.
“I never said that I was abandoning the weight class forever. If I had said I was done at 205, then what’s the point? I would just vacate the title right now. I wouldn’t hold up the belt and hold up the division if I had no intention of never going back. That’s not fair.”
As for causing a rift between Velasquez, Cormier says there simply won’t be any, as Cain is still his No. 1 training partner and will be one of his assistant coaches for TUF. And at the end of the day, the plan is still for Velasquez to reclaim the title.
But not before “DC” has the chance to join “Notorious” in an elite club and become the greatest fighter of all time.
“If I win this fight on July 7, I am the greatest fighter of all time. I will have done something that is unheard of. And that is something I have always chased,” said Cormier. “I chased it in my fights with Jones, regardless of the belt, I would always say that once I beat Jones I will be the greatest fighter of all time. I believe that once I do this, something that was so crazy that no one has attempted, I feel I am in the conversation of greatest fighter of all time.”