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Daniel Cormier suggests bad back ended UFC career long before Stipe Miocic did

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who also held gold at 205 pounds, had a chance to retire from mixed martial arts (MMA) at the top of his game, coming off consecutive finishes over Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis.

Instead, “DC” underwent back surgery to correct some of his longstanding issues and emerged a different fighter. What followed were back-to-back losses to Miocic and a retirement that was far past his expiration date and no longer on his terms.

“When I had that back surgery in 2018 after Derrick Lewis it was over,” Cormier said on the DC & Helwani show (transcribed by Cole Shelton). “Like I mean, it was absolutely over. I fought twice since and I possibly should not have. You can find those things in hindsight. But when I had that back surgery it so severely limited what I could do that it was pretty much over. I wasn’t the same guy. I trained hard last fight and Stipe beat me. But, I just wasn’t the same guy no more after the back surgery.”

Cormier, who finished with a 22-3 record (1 NC), had a long and memorable feud with light heavyweight rival Jon Jones but eventually moved back up to heavyweight once friend and training partner Cain Velasquez was no longer in the championship mix.

“It was bad for a long time, right, there were a lot of times in the middle of training camp I would have to take days off because my back was so beat up,” Cormier continued. “Legitimately break everything down to the core, all the wear and tear in order to get back to my feet. I remember times in the middle of my championship run or before when I was crawling up the stairs at my house because my back was so jacked up. I was always able to manage it but once I had that surgery it was done.”

Following three straight fights against Cormier, Miocic is expected to make his return to the Octagon in March for a heavyweight rematch against longtime contender Francis Ngannou, with the winner moving on to fight Jones next summer.