MOVE over Conor McGregor there is a new “Champ-Champ” in town. Daniel Cormier’s win over Stipe Miocic, which saw him add the UFC’s heavyweight title to his light-heavyweight crown and confirm that he is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
Cormier took out the most accomplished UFC heavyweight champion in Miocic, who had run roughshod over all challengers since ripping the belt from Fabricio Werdum’s grasp in blistering fashion back in 2016 and silenced many of the doubters who have been vocal over the years.
“DC” was never universally accepted as the light-heavyweight champion and was considered by some as a “paper” champion, who was simply holding on to the belt whilst Jon Jones bounced back from whatever debacle he had involved himself in this time around.
But, when you look at Cormier’s opponents since he moved down to light-heavy, then it is hard to dispute that he was the top dog in the division during Jones’ hiatus. Two wins over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and another over Alexander Gustafsson, both top five talents and subsequent stoppage of a rampaging Volkan Oezdemir in January proved that he was more than just a “paper” champion.
Whether he returns to the light-heavyweight scene after the win over Miocic and the added bonus of not having to drastically cut weight is very much in the air, despite his insistence he can do it. “DC” allegedly has his eyes on a potential title defence against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, providing the Brazilian comes through his upcoming clash with Anthony Smith in Hamburg, Germany on July 22.
At 39 years old and riding on the crest of a wave, Cormier has the opportunity to add one of the rarest achievements to his now bulging trophy cabinet. He can get out of the sport not only on his terms, but a wealthy man just to add the crowning glory to an incredible career.
Now, he is the man in the heavyweight division and looking at the challengers in the rankings, there is nothing to really get the juices flowing and the fear factor ramped up all the way to the top. Alexander Volkov and Curtis Blaydes have realistically earned a crack at the title, but the queue of people that are truly interested in those fights is pretty short and “DC” certainly isn’t in them.
But, the re-emergence of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the cage on Saturday night, has got pulses racing, in particular Cormier’s, who is a huge fan of professional wrestling, the world in which Lesnar currently resides.
The UFC needs stars and most importantly a big draw to get those PPV numbers. Lesnar, who failed a drug test last time he was in the UFC in 2016, is that star and he has now put himself back in the USADA test pool and should be clear to fight in January 2019, just in time for Cormier to go out on his 40th birthday in March, as he has always stated is his eventual plan.
The UFC are lacking true contenders to the heavyweight crown and a lack of names to capture the attention of masses. Cormier, the family man from Lafayette, Louisiana and one of the most respected analysts in the sport, yet never truly accepted by some, is that star the UFC needed.
One shove from Lesnar and a WWE style promo and UFC fans have come to terms, and let’s face it even if they won’t admit it, most will be all-in when it comes around, that Cormier-Lesnar is the fight the UFC needs.
Has Lesnar earned his shot? Of course he hasn’t. But, does Lesnar move the needle and bring in a PPV market? Absolutely. The UFC is a business and the fight between Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar will be a super-fight and super for business.
How will the fight go? Well, Cormier will enter a massive favourite and rightly so. Lesnar overcame huge odds and scepticism when he entered the UFC before, yet he was the champion in three fights, including a loss to Frank Mir in his Octagon debut, defeating Randy Couture. That takes some doing no matter what your background is.
All of the events that Lesnar headlined drew over 500k buys, with three drawing over 1m. That is good business in any market and part of the reason why Lesnar is coming back. Will he look to wrestle with Cormier, who of course was the US representative at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, just missing out on a bronze medal. He was also due to compete in Beijing in 2008 but was withdrawn due to kidney failure after excessive weight cutting.
Lesnar is a former NCAA heavyweight champion and that is definitely his wheelhouse, but he never looked great under pressure and was stopped by Cain Velasquez, Cormier’s training partner, and Alistair Overeem in quick fashion. He nullified Mark Hunt last time out, who is known for his devastating power, however Cormier is relentless when the cage door shuts.
Cormier has demonstrated he can totally out-wrestle you with consummate ease, as should be expected by an Olympic level wrestler, but he can also out-strike and out-work you down the stretch. He has a granite chin and like all great champions, he finds a way to win. The total package.
It is very difficult to truly make a genuine case for Lesnar. Brock is coming back as the attraction, yet Cormier is the man and will be rubbing his hands together with glee as he prepares himself to take on another former champion and earn a pretty hefty pay-cheque in the process.
He may take another fight in the meantime, as he waits for Lesnar to get through his six months and prove he is clean. Let’s be honest that is the first step and possibly the hardest step in the making of this fight. But, if you’re Cormier, why would you risk this fight by getting in the Octagon with someone else and put the Lesnar money on the line.
The only other name that really gets Cormier going would be a third tilt with Jon Jones, the only man to beat him and the man who failed a drug test for a second time after he beat “DC” last July. Jones is arguably the greatest talent that we have ever seen in MMA, but no one has taken their talent for granted more than him.
His name always pops up when Cormier is discussed, but he has been beaten to the punch this time by “DC”, as Cormier has done what Jones always wanted to do by winning the heavyweight title. That must irk Jones, who only has himself to blame if he fails to reach that goal. Bad guys don’t always win, as Jones has finally found out.
But, this is all about Cormier. A true role model, who has total belief and confidence in his abilities, who almost every time proves that he can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. His next fight with Lesnar should be no different.
He has been knocked back by some critics and many fans, who have poured water on his achievements. But, with the win over Miocic, the supporters have poured petrol on that same fire, so Cormier can finally be recognised as he should be. One of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time.
No one deserves it more than him.