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UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier is nearing the end of what has been an impressive UFC run. Like all great fighters, he plans to ride off into the sunset with his championship belt around his waist.
Cormier’s retirement plans may have been prolonged. In an interview with BJ Penn.com, Javier Mendez, Cormier’s trainer and American Kickboxing Academy instructor, said “DC” has 2-3 fights left in the works. One certainty about Cormier’s fight plans is he is done at light heavyweight.
Cormier recently wrapped up a great run at light heavyweight with a 7-1 record with one no contest. He became the UFC light heavyweight title in 2015 after he submitted Anthony Johnson in the third round of their fight and went on to have three successful title defenses.
The only blemish on DC’s light heavyweight record is a loss to Jon Jones before he became champion. Cormier had originally lost the title to Jones at UFC 214 until the latter failed a drug test. The fight was ruled a no contest and the belt was returned to DC. Critics cite Cormier’s loss and no contest as reasons not to include him in the “greatest fighter of all time” discussion.
Cormier’s time as light heavyweight champion came to an end on Dec. 28, 2018 when he relinquished the title, which Jones won that night after he defeated Alexander Gustafsson.
The two rivals, unsurprisingly, exchanged verbal and digital blows, prompting speculation of a rematch between the two.
Although he had a good run as light heavyweight champion, heavyweight is where Cormier belonged. Before he moved weight classes in 2014, Cormier was 13-0 as a heavyweight, winning the King of the Cage and XMMA heavyweight titles, and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix—a tournament where he was an alternate.
He racked up wins over the likes of Frank Mir, Josh Barnett, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and Roy Nelson.
If Cormier intends to stay at heavyweight, I say let him stay there. He doesn’t have any reason to return to 205 pounds, unless it’s for another payday against Jones. If the UFC is adamant about promoting Jones vs. Cormier III, let DC wait until Jones decides to move up to heavyweight.
With 2-3 fights left in his career, Cormier has a few options for opponents. The first is a rematch against former champion Stipe Micocic.
At UFC 226, Cormier scored a first-round knockout over Miocic to win the heavyweight title and has offered to face the former champion in a rematch. Miocic has not fought since the Cormier bout.
Another possible opponent is current WWE Universal Champion and former UFC titleholder Brock Lesnar.
“The Beast,” as fans call him, amassed a 5-3 record with one no contest. After Cormier won the heavyweight title at UFC 226, he and Lesnar faced off, causing the MMA world to wonder if the two would fight.
Cormier versus Lesnar could be a big draw, however, it is unlikely to happen at this point. Lesnar has not paid the fine to the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his failed drug test in his fight against Mark Hunt—but the fight could be booked in another location.
Lesnar’s current WWE deal allows him to compete in the UFC, though he would need to take time off to properly train.
A third option is Fancis Ngannou, who takes on Cain Velasquez at UFC on ESPN 1. Ngannou. After back-to-back losses, Ngannou finished 2018 with a first-round finish over Curtis Blaydes, ending the latter’s four-fight winning streak. A win over a former champion like Velasquez would move him up the rankings, as well as put him in Cormier’s crosshairs for defeating his friend.
One opponent fans won’t see Cormier face is Velasquez. The two are good friends and training partners at AKA, and Cormier waited to pursue the heavyweight title under after Velasquez lost it.
Mendez said that after Cormier retires, he will prepare Velasquez to win back the heavyweight title.
No matter how Cormier finishes his fight career, he can do so with his head held high and go down as one of the greats.