UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is on the mend but still hasn’t set a timeline for his return to action.
Following a huge year for his career that included becoming a two-division UFC champion and defending belts in both divisions, Cormier is now dealing with a lingering back problem that has plagued him since his fight against Derrick Lewis last November.
Cormier had originally set a deadline in March ahead of his 40th birthday for his retirement date, but he knows that date will not be met while he’s still dealing with his injury.
That’s why Cormier hasn’t booked his next fight or even hinted at when he’ll be competing next because he’s taking the time off necessary to allow his body to heal.
“I f----- my back up at UFC 230. It hasn’t recovered as fast as I hoped it would,” Cormier revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly.
“I have to take some time off. I had to take some time to try and make myself healthy because my schedule was so heavy last year. Three fights, three five round training camps, very heavy training camps. Last year was three championship fights, I did ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, I did all my commentary duties, I took that high school wrestling job in the middle of the year. It’s just a heavy, heavy year and I just need some time to get myself back in order.”
The back injury isn’t so severe that Cormier would need surgery or anything that drastic but it’s still keeping him in enough pain that he knows rushing back would be a really bad idea.
Cormier has been taking his time while resting and recovering and figuring out that there is no specific roadmap when it comes to how long it return from a back injury.
“You think you’re better but then you’re not and when you’re not better, you’re really not better,” Cormier described. “You feel fine but when it goes out you’re on the floor crawling. It’s a weird thing.”
As much as Cormier wanted to keep to his timeline for retirement, he realized after accepting a short notice fight against Lewis last November that he was probably going to fight past his 40th birthday.
The last time he kept a schedule this packed was in 2015 when he had a similar string of opponents over the course of the year and the damage done to his body just added up with each fight.
“The last time I fought like that was in 2015 when I fought Jones, I fought ‘Rumble’ and I fought Gustafsson. I didn’t fight again until the next July. I had to take nine months to try and get myself reset,” Cormier said. “Last year, I had that kind of schedule, too.”
Because his body isn’t ready to go yet, Cormier hasn’t started engaging in conversations with the UFC regarding his next fight.
Cormier can’t even begin to speculate on a timeline to return because that would force him to decide how long his back problem will persist and right now that’s just unknown.
Once he is healed, Cormier will start talks with the UFC on his next opponent but for now he’s just in recovery mode while waiting for the back problem to subside.
“Once I heal up, I can start looking forward to what’s next but right now it’s just handle these injuries. Just get better,” Cormier said.
“I’m just waiting. I’m just waiting and when I feel better we’ll talk. Me and the UFC will talk when I get better and we’ll decide on a date and then we’ll go forward with a fight.”