The announcement of the main event heavyweight title fight next month at UFC 230 in New York between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis definitely surprised a few fans, given the short notice. Cormier had announced previously that he would retire from MMA for good by March 2019 and a fight with World Wrestling Entertainment super star Brock Lesnar had been pencilled in for “early 2019.”
Rumors were floating around that he might decide to defend his light heavyweight belt against long-time rival Jon Jones who is returning from a 15 month suspension from USADA. In the end, Cormier was offered Lewis on short notice and in the process was stripped of his light heavyweight belt which will be on the line when Jones faces Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in December.
Cormier recently spoke with ESPN about the lucrative deal the UFC offered and why he decided to accept it on short notice:
“I didn’t think I was going to fight on this card, but the deal I got was so good,” Cormier said. “There was no way I could say no, honestly. Especially with a guy like Derrick, who is not known for the best cardio. I’ve got to start fast and hope I can push harder than him, even with a short camp.”
Cormier is aware of his impeding, if self-imposed, retirement date and claims to be choosing his spots carefully.
“Counting the Lewis fight, I think I’m down to two fights left,” Cormier said. “Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise, the fact that I don’t have a crazy, long fight camp to beat myself down. That may prolong it for me, but right now, I think I have this one and maybe one more. I can still fight in March and hit my retirement date. The one opponent that would matter to me most is Jones, because he’s beaten me twice.
”The one that would mean more financially would be Lesnar,” Cormier added. “I think I would always pick the one that means more, but my wife might have something to say about that.”
Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic was frustrated he didn’t get the nod to fight next month for the belt. Cormier said he wouldn’t have accepted the fight against Miocic even if it was offered as he believes Miocic offers a different of challenges.
“I would not have accepted a rematch against StipeMiocic on short notice, he’s too good under these circumstances,” Cormier said. “I’m not saying Derrick isn’t good, but Stipe is capable of beating me in different ways. He does different things well. I think in this fight, Derrick has to knock me out to win.
”Usually, if a guy only has one path to victory, I do pretty well,” Cormier concluded. “Yes, I will admit the opponent factored into this.”