Daniel Cormier no longer retiring on 40th birthday after injuries postpone potential Brock Lesnar fight

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
Daniel Cormier is going to have to change his retirement plans. (Getty Images)
Daniel Cormier is going to have to change his retirement plans. (Getty Images)

It appears Daniel Cormier’s master plan of riding off into the sunset on his 40th birthday after one last lucrative fight has a hit a few snags.

The UFC heavyweight champion said he doesn’t have his next fight scheduled due to a litany of injuries during an appearance on “The MMA Hour” podcast on Monday. Cormier reported his back as the main issue, after the wear and tear of three championship fights in 2018.

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Daniel Cormier’s multiple injuries

From MMA Fighting:

“I hurt my back in New York City when I sneezed. This was no joke and it’s just still trying to rehab it and get better,” Cormier said. “It was just me hurting my back. I put a lot of miles on myself in my life with the wrestling, but then last year was a big year and you don’t get to have that type of year at my age and not really feel the effects of it and I’m still going through that right now.”

Cormier had also reportedly been dealing with a thumb injury that has since healed and a wrist injury that may never really heal.

“The thumb’s fine,” Cormier said. “I think a lot of times you get hurt in so many ways, but then when one thing overtakes the other one, you almost forget about it and then you start to focus on the back and getting the back better, and then the hand.

“My doctor said I’ve got arthritis in my wrist, that’s why my wrist bothers me all the time, so there’s nothing I’m really gonna be able to do about that. That’s just something I have to deal with, but the back has been the focus lately.”

Cormier indicated he was not 100 percent when he easily dispatched Derrick Lewis, a condition he plans to fight in again going forward.

Daniel Cormier’s retirement plan not working out

All of this is obviously disheartening to hear from one of the UFC’s great fighters. Cormier had seemed set to fight Brock Lesnar in early 2019 before his planned retirement when he turns 40 on March 20, a matchup that would have been both very lucrative and almost certainly as safe a win as Cormier could get as a champ.

Now, that does not appear to be happening. Cormier said UFC officials asked him if he would want to fight against an unspecified opponent at UFC 235 on March 2, the last major UFC event before his birthday, and he said no. Lesnar is still suspended for failing a drug test and will remain suspended until he pays a $250,000 fine.

If Lesnar doesn’t work out for whatever reason, the list of intriguing opponents for Cormier is pretty short due to Cormier’s dominance over the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions over the last half-decade.

No. 1 on the list would be Cormier’s nemesis and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the only man to beat Cormier in the Octagon. However, Jones, fresh off his return to the UFC, might not have much interest in a trilogy against a fighter he has already defeated twice (the second win was vacated due to a doping violation).

The other worthy opponent would be Stipe Miocic, who Cormier defeated for the heavyweight belt and seems very interested in getting a rematch. Cormier said he’s game for another fight against Miocic, but Lesnar remains his likely next opponent:

“We’re not waiting for Brock Lesnar. Because of my injuries, I’m just not available to fight. If I was available to fight, I probably would have fought Stipe already. But I’m just not available to fight right now so we’ll see what happens with Lesnar and then we’ll address what’s after that.”

Of course, all that depends on Cormier being healthy again, and that might not be a guarantee for a 39-year-old eyeing retirement and already dealing with wrist arthritis.

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