Daniel Cormier is my pick for “Fighter of the Year.”
After Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) reinstated him as 205-pound champion, “DC” defended his light heavyweight title at UFC 220 by stopping Volkan Oezdemir, then captured the 265-pound crown by knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. Roughly four months later, the Louisianan defended his heavyweight title by submitting Derrick Lewis.
That makes him the only fighter in UFC history to both hold and defend championship titles in two different weight classes (sorry, Conor).
Miocic, of course, was champion when he stepped into the cage last July, while both Oezdemir and Lewis were ranked No. 2 in their respective divisions. We’re not talking about a couple of “gimme” fights, but Cormier makes them look that way because he’s so fucking good.
Which should give you an idea of just how special Jon Jones is, because “Bones” is the only one who can handle “DC” — and he’s done it twice. Officially it was just once, as the UFC 214 finish was overturned when “Bones” flunked his post-fight drug test.
Cormier now stands at 22-1 (1 NC) after his second-round submission win over the “Black Beast” in last night’s (Sat., Nov. 3, 2018) UFC 230 pay-per-view (PPV) main event (recap), a short-notice affair that was designed to keep the promotion from making a big mistake.
Not everyone was on board for the Cormier-Lewis fight, including Lewis, but cries for a Miocic rematch fell on deaf ears. Probably because the ex-champ is a box-office bust and let’s face it, we was knocked out in the first round rather easily.
Outside of Miocic, the next available contender coming off a victory was Curtis Blaydes.
We can’t really blame Cormier for that. He could have moved back down to light heavyweight to complete his trilogy with Jones; however, “DC” was never offered the “Bones” fight, which has since gone to Alexander Gustafsson.
Assuming that bout comes to fruition, Cormier will be forced to surrender his 205-pound title and remain at heavyweight. That’s where he’ll face ex-champion Brock Lesnar in early 2019, assuming the WWE import can pass his mandatory drug tests.
Sure, that contest will probably be another one-sided shellacking, and a complete waste of time, but Cormier has earned it after three straight title fights (and three straight finishes) and Lesnar (for whatever reason) can still move the PPV needle.
That means beaucoup bucks for Cormier.
Other fighters have notched more victories in 2018, including fellow UFC 230 finisher Israel Adesanya (sample), but “The Last Stylebender” — as fantastic as he’s looked — has not fought the level of competition that “DC” has and never had to compete with a title on the line.
Cormier has also surpassed his fellow champions. Robert Whittaker (middleweight), Tyron Woodley (welterweight), Max Holloway (featherweight), TJ Dillashaw (bantamweight), and Henry Cejudo (flyweight), will finish 2018 with just one title fight.
Only Khabib Nurmagomedov, who trains with Cormier at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), has competed in a championship fight more than once in 2018, thanks to his UFC 223 laugher opposite Al Iaquinta last April.
The two-time Olympian is expected to retire from combat sports when he turns 40, which means the Lesnar fight is likely to be his last. If so, Cormier will leave UFC as the greatest heavyweight in the game, as well as the second-best light heavyweight.
Not too shabby.
For much more on UFC 230, including live results, play-by-play updates, highlights, recaps, reactions and more, head over to our “Cormier vs. Lewis” live story stream by clicking here.