UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is going to miss out on the massive fight with Brock Lesnar that he had zeroed in on after winning the belt. But instead of retiring in March as planned, Cormier is now staring down a rematch with Stipe Miocic. He's also got intentions of fighting Jon Jones for a third time.
Lesnar had entered the Octagon at UFC 226 on July 7, 2018, where he shoved Cormier just after he had won the belt from Miocic. That was supposed to have triggered a blockbuster match-up sometime in 2019.
When it came time to put pen to paper, the UFC and Lesnar couldn't get a deal done and UFC president Dana White said that Lesnar instead opted to retire.
Brock Lesnar is out, Stipe Miocic is in
With Lesnar out of the equation, the UFC quickly shifted to a rematch between Cormier and Miocic. It's a fight that Miocic has been pining for ever since losing the belt, and one that Cormier has said the record-setting former champion deserves. But he also feels it's a fight that he won't lose, despite how good Miocic is.
"I just don’t know how I can beat him better than I beat him last time. It's tough to top how I did it last time," Cormier said on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on ESPN.
"I do intend on beating him again. Stylistically, it's a good match-up for me. I just feel I'm a better mixed martial arts than Stipe."
Despite Cormier believing he's better overall than Miocic, the former champion's record of three UFC heavyweight title defenses made him a lock for deserving another fight with Cormier.
"I knew if I wasn't gonna fight Brock, it was gonna have to be him and he deserved that," said Cormier.
Even if he wins, Cormier doesn't have a lot of time left on his career. He was already planning to have been retired two months ago.
Jon Jones is the only other fighter left in Daniel Cormier's sites
Right now, he's not sleeping on Miocic. He knows he has to be on point to win that fight again. But if he sticks around beyond Miocic at UFC 241 in August, Cormier sees only one other fighter in his immediate future, Jon Jones.
"It’s all I want," Cormier said on Monday. "I think when I fight Jones, I feel most complete when I’m preparing for a competition against that guy. It's makes me train harder. It makes me train smarter. If I do stick around, that would be the fight that I would do it for."
He wouldn't, however, be targeting Miocic's heavyweight title defense record. Having lost twice to Jones, Cormier wants to make things right, and to do that, a third fight would have to take place at light heavyweight just like the first two fights.
"It would have to be at 205 pounds because I need to go and get that back from him," Cormier said.
"I don't need the deck stacked in my favor. My whole life I have overcome odds. I have to get it right and I have to get it right on the same terms. There's a fight out there and it will be him and I again at 205 pounds."
Daniel Cormier is content with retirement on the horizon
Not that Cormier is committing to a fight with Jones even if he defeats Miocic. The competitor in him wants to run that fight back, but financially, the security of his family isn't at risk if he walks away from mixed martial arts after fighting Miocic.
"If you want to get right competitively, you go back and get the one you lost. But if I don’t, trust me, I can be fine. I’m just fiercely competitive. When I say if there is another fight after (Miocic), it would have to be that one," said Cormier.
"There's only two fights out there for me. There's a Miocic rematch and there's a Jones fight, if there is a fight. If we fight, you'll see the best version of me and you'll the best version of him."
For now, however, all we can count on is Cormier stepping into the Octagon with Miocic at UFC 241 on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, Calif. After that, we'll see if he sticks around for another shot at running it back with Jones or if Cormier leaves his gloves in the cage and walks away.