Daniel Cormier has been driven by competition since the first time he stepped on the wrestling mats when he was still just a kid.
Three decades later, Cormier is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in all of mixed martial arts, clutching two world championships and about to defend his heavyweight title on short notice against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 on Saturday night.
At 39 years of age, Cormier may be one of the older competitors on the UFC roster but he's still the best and showing no signs of slowing down in any of his recent performances.
But Cormier has already announced plans to retire in early 2019 as he approaches his 40th birthday. The reigning heavyweight and light heavyweight champion has promised his children that he will turn his full attention to them soon enough and he's accomplished everything he's wanted to accomplish since transitioning to mixed martial arts from wrestling several years ago.
Cormier insists the clock is ticking on his career but if he gets past Lewis this weekend, there are a pair of very intriguing fights that could await him next year. WWE superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is coming back and was already expected to face Cormier in early 2019.
Add to that, Jon Jones is about to compete again at UFC 232 and he stands as the only person to hold a victory over Cormier in his entire MMA career. Avenging that defeat as his final fight would certainly be a great way for Cormier to go out on top.
Still, Cormier says that he's not going to let anybody else dictate how he ends his career because he's going out on his own terms whether anybody likes it or not.
"I do feel strongly in that idea," Cormier told MMAWeekly about his looming retirement next year. "I've worked a long time again to be able to walk away and not be a guy that ends up on his back. I don't want to be the guy getting beat up by some of these young guys cause I stuck around too long. I don't want to do that. I do know that eventually time will catch up.
"Father time is undefeated. It doesn’t matter. It doesn't matter how good you think you are or what you think you can do — at a point, father time will catch up to you. I want to make sure that I'm out the gate before the sun is set on me."
If the matchups aren't a motivating factor, what about the money?
Cormier is almost guaranteed the biggest paycheck of his career to face Lesnar, who has always been one of the most profitable fighters when it comes to pay-per-views. The Jon Jones fight would also certainly generate a lot of interest considering their first two fights both hovered just under one million pay-per-view buys each.
As enticing as the paycheck might be — and Cormier has openly said money played a big factor in accepting his fight at UFC 230 — he's not driven by the zeroes being added to his bank account.
That's why Cormier says he would potentially consider sticking around past his retirement deadline of March 2019 if the right opportunity presented itself but his decision won't be changed by Lesnar, Jones or the amount of monetary gain on the table to delay the end date for his career.
"I would look at it and talk to my training team about it but I don’t need to fight," Cormier explained. "I don't even need to fight right now, I just want to fight. I don't need to fight. I don't need to fight for financial security, I don't need to fight for legacy. I don't need to fight. So I don't need any of these guys. I don't need Brock [Lesnar]. I don't need Jon [Jones].
"I don't need these guys anymore. There was a time when I needed these guys just to get to the big money fights and making more money is nice but I've got plenty of money. I fight because I want to. So if anybody thinks I would chase these guys and extend my career for some sort of 'I have to get this person or that person', that's not true. I don't need anyone."