NEW YORK – If you’re a Daniel Cormier fan, appreciate him while you can. The UFC champ-champ’s days as a fighter appear to be numbered.
On Saturday night, Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) retained his heavyweight title with a dominant performance against Derrick Lewis, winning by second-round submission in their UFC 230 main event at Madison Square Garden.
With the victory, Cormier, who also holds the light heavyweight title, stayed on course for a date with Brock Lesnar. When that fight will take place remains to be seen, but the announced UFC 235 pay-per-view in Las Vegas sounds good to Cormier.
But first, some time off.
Cormier accepted the fight with Lewis on just four weeks’ notice to cap off a busy 2018 in which the 39-year-old champ fought three times. The win over Lewis made history, as Cormier became the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend titles in two different divisions.
It almost didn’t happen, though, as Cormier injured his back Saturday morning just by sneezing, a reminder that some time off is much needed, which is how UFC President Dana White sees it.
“I really appreciate him stepping up and taking this fight. He needs to take some time off and spend some time with his family and heal his body up,” White said. “You think about Comier, this guy’s been doing this for a very long time, you know, wrestling and mixed martial arts. He’s going to be 40 years old soon. He’s got a lot of wear and tear on his body. Take some rest. He’s an absolute freak, man. He’s such a talented guy. And when I say talented, in every way, shape and form.”
With the clock ticking on retirement, it seems unlikely that Cormier will have a trilogy fight with Jon Jones, who he’s lost two twice before. Cormier’s second loss to Jones was overturned, however, after Jones was suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for failing a drug test.
Jones is set to fight Alexander Gustafsson Dec. 29 at UFC 232, in which Cormier will be officially stripped of his 205-pound belt once the fight begins. A third fight between Cormier in Jones is one that White said he would like to see – even if Jones isn’t into it. But knowing Cormier has retirement on his mind, White said he isn’t about to try and convince him to keep fighting beyond his desired expiration date.
“No, I never convince anybody to stick around,” Cormier said. “If somebody thinks they’re done, if it even crossed their mind that they’re done, you’ll never hear any argument out of me.”
Cormier said his relationship with the UFC continues to go smoothly, and he’s happy to hear White sign off on taking a break. Hopefully he also signs off on UFC 235 being his last fight.
“I’m glad that he wants me to take some time, because I stepped up on short notice,” Cormier said. “And honestly, I’ve fought three times this year with three finishes – three championship fights, three finishes. I’ve had a big year, probably one of my more active years I’ve had in a long time. And it just feels good to get my hand raised. It looks like March 2, 2019 could be the last time you guys see me fight in the octagon.”