Daniel Cormier has been working toward retirement for more than a year, but it might not end the way he had always envisioned... and he's okay with that.
Cormier told ESPN's Ariel Helwani on Monday that he's already beginning to train for a third bout with UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, although he doesn't yet have a date and certainly not a location. He is, however, anticipating that it could happen at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The promotion is expected to hold most of its U.S. based events in the Apex at its headquarters once Nevada lifts some of its coronavirus restrictions, allowing them to begin operating there again.
Cormier first fought Miocic at UFC 226 in July of 2018, where he shocked many people by knocking him out in the first round and taking the UFC heavyweight belt. The two rematched at UFC 241 with Miocic returning the favor by TKOing Cormier late in the fourth round to regain the title.
Wherever it may be, Cormier expects that his third fight with Miocic, expected to be the final bout of his career, win or lose, would likely take place without a crowd in attendance.
"Empty arena and if it’s at the (UFC) Apex, I think the cage is smaller. It’s like the Ultimate Fighter cage, so that’s a whole other fight. It’s a smaller cage than the one we fight in for pay-per-views. But yeah, I’ll go fight this guy in the empty arena. I want to fight him," said Cormier.
It's not ideal, but as Cormier said, "At least I get an opportunity to finish.”
One thing Cormier would really want to have happen for his final fight is to have his family in attendance. But even if he gets the okay to fight Miocic, it's not a given that his family would be allowed to attend. Any return to operations, especially in the near term, is likely to include strict limits.
Looking at the fight taking place sometime this summer, Cormier still thinks that it could be a monster event, perhaps even more so because of the pandemic restrictions.
"I was pretty confident that it was gonna happen at the time in my head that I know, but right now I don’t know when in the summer it’s gonna happen. But I just can feel that when it does, it’s gonna be bigger than it was ever gonna be," Cormier concluded.
"More good fights, more people at home watching. It’s gonna be the perfect way to go out on top, as the man."