'Lesnar would be the next fight': UFC champ Daniel Cormier delays retirement to face WWE star
UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier had planned on retiring by the time of his 40th birthday in March but has decided to extend his time as a professional athlete in the hopes of securing a lucrative bout with Brock Lesnar.
Up until now, Cormier's career had a very definitive expiry date attached to it, but as he told Luke Thomas on a recent edition of The MMA Hour, niggling injuries along with the prospect of a money-spinning bout against former UFC champ Lesnar have persuaded him to put any plans to walk away from MMA on hold.
Cormier fought in three world title bouts across two separate weight divisions in 2018, winning them all. The last one, a successful heavyweight title defense against Derrick Lewis in Madison Square Garden in November, was a learning experience for the former Olympian who was suffering from a thumb injury and says he rushed his preparations in advance of it - a mistake he doesn't intend on repeating.
Official: Daniel Cormier is not retiring by his 40th birthday. #theMMAhour— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) February 11, 2019
"The thumb’s fine," Cormier said of his injury. "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.
"I just don’t know if I’m gonna do what I did in New York again, where I have to fight where I’m not 110 percent."
One of just a handful of fighters to have held UFC titles in two separate weight classes, Cormier said that his rushed preparation time in advance of UFC 230 in November caused him to overexert himself in training. One back injury later, he says it taught him to not accept fights unless he is physically ready.
"I truly do feel like the reason my back went out was because I went from zero to trying to prepare for a fight in three weeks and I can’t really do that. I need those first four weeks of a pre-training camp just to prepare my body to go through a full eight-week camp.Also on rt.com Future Khabib? UFC champ's father posts clip of Dagestani youngster wrestling with a bear (VIDEO)
"I used to do 12 weeks, I did all that in four and that’s why my body started falling apart on me. 12 weeks and I’m not at 100 percent, so say, I don’t know, spring? Summer? I don’t know. Not exactly sure yet."
And with someone the size of Brock Lesnar, or even former champion Stipe Miocic, potentially waiting for him in his next fight, Cormier says his next opponent will be largely dictated by the lay of the land once everyone concerned is fit and healthy.
"I think maybe Lesnar next would be the fight. And again as I’ve always said, yeah I’ll fight Stipe again. It’s just the same exact thing.
"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."