Q&A: Daniel Cormier on UFC 241 Fight Against Stipe Miocic

Justin Barrasso
Sports Illustrated

UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will defend his title in the main event of this Saturday’s UFC 241 against Stipe Miocic.

Cormier knocked Miocic out in the first round to take the belt in July 2018 and will want to replicate his dominance come Saturday night.

With a record of 22-1-1, Cormier has dominated virtually every opponent throughout his career, with his only loss coming to Jon Jones. Jones has been active this week on social media, re-igniting speculation over whether there will ever be a third fight between himself and Cormier.

Cormier spoke with Sports Illustrated about his upcoming UFC 241 fight against Miocic, the possibility of a third bout with Jones and even touched on his appreciation for Brock Lesnar’s performance at SummerSlam.

Justin Barrasso: The night before your UFC 226 fight against Stipe Miocic, you said your plan was to get out of clinch position and “crack him upside the head.” That was exactly what happened, as you landed a perfect right hand.

What is your plan for this title fight?

Daniel Cormier: Just fight my fight. I don’t necessarily have a certain plan. I don’t think I had a certain plan the first time. I was just going to go out and fight to the best of my ability, and I did that and I got the finish. I exploited a hole in his game that I’m sure he’s addressed, and it is going to be very difficult to get him in the same way again.

JB: Miocic threw a lot of combinations at you at 226, but it was an even fight until you knocked him out. What do you respect most about Miocic as a fighter?

DC: I respect his ability to fight. He’s a good fighter, he’s very fast and very strong. He’s a guy who knows how to win and knows how to finish fights. And I agree, I thought it was an even fight.

He looked so good early because I took a little bit of time to get started. I want to see what the guy is doing and get the guy’s timing. Once I got his timing, I felt I was more in control right before the knockout. I was the one landing the cleaner shots right before he got finished.

JB: Is Miocic’s best shot keeping distance between the two of you and drawing you forward?

DC: If Stipe tries to maintain range and distance, it will be tough. But that’s the fight that I like, actually. I like to be the guy going forward, the guy pressing the pace. I think he needs to make me back up and not be comfortable.

JB: You’re Batman and Jon Jones is the Joker, so it is inevitable that Jones comes up.

You and Jones had an exchange on Twitter on Tuesday, and he claimed there won’t be a third fight between the two of you because you won’t fight him at light heavyweight. What’s your response to Jones?

DC: I don’t really have one. I need to focus on Miocic.

I can see what Jon’s doing. He’s been involved in the last couple pay per views, he’s fighting and been active, but the money’s not the same when you’re not fighting a guy who can help you sell a fight.

Trying to goad me into a third fight with him is a way for me to make him money. He can continue to fight those guys and not make any money. I’m good. I’m making great money as the heavyweight champion of the world, as I should.

JB: It’s unlikely that the timing of his tweets—days before your main event fight—was coincidental.

DC: Jon Jones would love for me to lose to someone else. Don’t think for a second that me losing to Stipe Miocic wouldn’t make him happy. He knows what he’s doing. He’s trying to distract me from what I have going on right now. Notice when he fights, I don’t say anything to try to mess with him. Let him go do his business.

JB: If you win this fight, doesn’t Francis Ngannou make more sense for your next opponent? Or does it have to be Jones?

DC: I don’t know. I’m taking every fight just one at a time, I’m just trying to get through Miocic. This weekend could be the last time I fight, I don’t know.

I’m 40 years old. I’ve accomplished everything in this great sport and I’m living in the moment. That’s the one thing I’ve done lately—I’ve been able to slow everything down and just live for what’s happening right now, and that’s why I’m so happy.

I’m taking it all in because when I walk away, I’m walking away with the idea that I can still compete with the best in the world. It won’t be me getting shown a door. I could lose this weekend—which I’m not—but I could lose this weekend and still beat the vast majority of people in the world, and maybe Stipe if we were to fight again. But I’ll have to be able to walk away knowing that most of those dudes that are out there as stars, I can still beat—and I’ll just have to be okay knowing I’m done.

JB: What did you think of Brock Lesnar’s performance at SummerSlam this past Sunday?

DC: I watched Brock at SummerSlam and he did the job clean for Seth Rollins. Brock really elevated Seth. That’s one of the best matches I’ve seen him do in a while.

It’s usually suplex, suplex, suplex, then the F5 and the match is over. I thought Brock really did a good job of selling Seth’s offense and making it a good match. It was one of the better matches I’ve seen him put on in a while, I enjoyed it.

JB: On the topic of incredible fighters, Nate Diaz returns at 241 for his first fight in three years. Will you watch his fight against Anthony Pettis, or will you be too immersed in your pre-fight preparation?

DC: I’ll watch as a fan. Some fights are really good and some fights are really bad. As excited as you can be to watch a fight like Diaz-Pettis, you can get the Derrick Lewis fight from Stipe and I last time [Lewis fought Francis Ngannou at UFC 226], and it can’t get worse, right? Even if Anthony and Diaz decide not to swing at each other, it can’t get worse than that one. But I think this is going to be a phenomenal fight, and I’ll watch before I go out and do my thing.

JB: As a fighter, is it difficult to main event a show? The waiting has to be the hardest part.

DC: It’s been a while since I wasn’t fighting late. Since I got into the UFC, I’ve never fought earlier than second-to-last. Every fight’s always been really late in the night. I don’t even know what it feels like to fight early anymore. The last time I fought early was when I fought way back in the day with Strikeforce in the second fight of the night. Everything else, I’ve always been real late in the fight card.

JB: What should we watch for early in your fight against Miocic?

DC: I’ll keep it to myself, but there are some tricks that we’ve been working on that will show themselves. We’ve been working on a few things, and you’ll see them on Saturday.

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