Daniel Cormier: I’m Just Thinking About Getting The Belt Around My Waist
Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier won and lost his heavyweight title against the same man, Stipe Miocic. He knocked out the current champion at UFC 226 back in 2018 to win the strap. However, Miocic managed to win it back a year later, via a fourth-round TKO at UFC 241. The trilogy fight will bring an end to the rivalry, August 15th at UFC 252. After which DC plans to retire.
Going Out On Top
In an interview for MMA Junkie, Cormier explained why he wishes to retire as the champion.
“I just believe that, at a point, I have to say money is money, and I’ve made a lot of it, and there’s going to always be more money. If it’s in my heart that this is it then I have to stand firm in that knowing there’s going to be opportunities,” Cormier said. “You can be the best in the world, and you can always be the best in the world until you’re not. Eventually some time and someone will catch up to you, and I’m just making sure I get the chance to go out on top.
“I’ve won a lot. I’ve been a lucky guy in the sport, and the ability and opportunity to go out on top is unheard of. We see Georges St-Pierre constantly getting asked to come back and just the other day he says, ‘I went out on top. People don’t get that.’ I have that opportunity, and I think if I can complete this task, it’s as big as anything I’ve ever done.”
During their second fight, Miocic found a brilliant way to exploit some openings on Cormier’s body in the fourth round, which eventually led to the finish. DC’s lack of cardio in the later rounds also contributed to the loss, so he has invested heavily in his preparation to not let that happen again in the trilogy match. This has included working with one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, George Foreman, and a notable MMA coach Mark Henry, aside from his usual crew at American Kickboxing Academy.
In addition, Cormier has been pushing his body to the limits during his training camp, irregardless of his previous back injury.
“When we went into this training camp, I told Bob Cook: ‘If we go into training camp, and the back starts to get tight and I get hurt and I can’t get through this training camp in the way we need it to be, then we just won’t fight.’
“It’s not going to be, ‘Let’s cut back on this, or if it’s hurting let’s stop. Let’s not do that.’ Let’s go and try to do a training camp in the way that we’ve always done, and if the body holds up, the body holds up. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. I think things are as good as they’re ever going to be, and it’s the perfect time for a trilogy fight.”
A Familiar Opponent
The upcoming trilogy bout will make Miocic the first UFC fighter to ever face the same person in three back-to-back matches. The same can almost be said for Cormier, who has only faced Derrick Lewis outside of the three fights with Stipe, who he defeated at UFC 230 in November 2018.
The 41-year old explained how his perspective on Miocic has changed over the course of two years.
“It’s odd. I remember when I was first asked about fighting Stipe Miocic I never would’ve thought that it would’ve turned into this,” Cormier said. “Three straight summers I’ve spent preparing for him. I feel very familiar with Stipe and the things he wants to do. I feel very familiar with his approach and honestly, over the course of three years you gain – I’ve got a bigger level of respect for him and his abilities today opposed to when I first took the fight or going into the second fight.
“You learn a lot about a person when they become your sole focus for so long. I think when you train for someone for three years, and the fights are going the way that they go, obviously your relationship changes. I think Stipe and I before were pretty cordial, maybe even friends. But now it’s a little bit different. I do believe when it’s all said and done I will not harbor any bad emotions toward him.”
Cormier compared the nature of his rivalry with Miocic to the one he had with the UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
“I think [this is career defining]. We had three fights, and I intend on winning the third fight and the trilogy,” DC said. “It will be difficult for me to ever be completely free of that rivalry with Jones because it was so big. We sold so much pay-per-view, and the rivalry was so nasty. We were so nasty with each other, and the general public paid attention.
“But competitively this is the one that I love, because I’m fighting a guy that has done and stood for the right things and has competed in the right way. Jones is a fantastic competitor, and I feel like still, he brought the best out of me in terms of my preparation. But I believe Stipe Miocic has done the same thing now.”
There have been a lot of talks in the MMA community about the Octagon factor at the UFC APEX, because it is smaller in size than the regular one. Many believe that it would go hand in hand with Cormier’s wrestling base, which he intends to utilise heavily this time around.
“I think it goes 25 minutes if both of us are as prepared as we say we are. I’m going to do more things,” DC said. “I think Stipe did a fantastic job making those adjustments, but the reality is I was so tired in that second fight the exhaustion got me.
“Obviously getting hit by a guy like that does ware on you, but I couldn’t even think to do the correct defences I was so exhausted, and that’s sad. I just need to do what I’m supposed to do out there, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Although he made up his mind about hanging up the gloves after the trilogy fight with Miocic, Cormier won’t let it distract him from competing at the best of his abilities, and getting the strap for the very last time.
“I’m so focused on the fight. I’m not thinking about the aftermath,” DC said. “I’m not thinking about the theatrics and all the things that go into making a moment that will play [forever]. I’m not thinking about that. I’m just thinking about the most joyous thing, is getting the belt wrapped around my waist. That’s it. The way that I’ve spent so much of my career, I want it to happen one more time, and that’s all I can really think about.
“I’m not really thinking about if my gloves are going to come off. I’ve never even thought about that for a second. It’s just go win the fight and you do that, everything else is just icing on the cake.”
Who do you think walks away the UFC heavyweight champion, when Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic meet for the third time inside the Octagon at UFC 252?