UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, 40, wanted a superfight against former champion Brock Lesnar to be his farewell fight, but it appears he’ll face Stipe Miocic in a rematch instead.
According to ESPN, Lesnar informed UFC president Dana White that he doesn’t intend to fight in the UFC again, leaving the door open for Cormier and Miocic to tangle again.
The same reports suggest both fighters have agreed to terms and that contracts are being finalized. Cormier defeated Miocic by first-round knockout in July 2018 at UFC 226, a victory which netted Cormier, who was then the light heavyweight titleholder, UFC “champ-champ” status.
According to PaddyPower, Cormier, 9/10, and Miocic, 9/10, are listed at dead even odds on the early UFC betting market with MMA’s best bookmakers.
Why Cormier-Lesnar Fight Fell Through
It was assumed Cormier would eventually fight Lesnar after Cormier used his post-fight interview to call out the cageside WWE star after Cormier’s shocking upset of Miocic. Lesnar then entered the Octagon, and the two men had a shouting match which appeared to be a kind of early promotion.
Lesnar, 41, hadn’t been an MMA fighter since 2011. But the WWE star’s loss to Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 35 this year, along with his reappearance in USADA’s testing pool, left many to speculate a UFC return was on its way. Moreover, Cormier openly talked about targeting the fight and reports indicated it was on its way.
But after Lesnar suddenly announced his UFC retirement, some have suggested it was probably a matter of Lesnar not getting a big enough purse due to the UFC’s new exclusive PPV agreement with ESPN+ in which only subscribers can purchase UFC PPVs.
Why Cormier-Miocic Over Other Fights
Left without a dance partner, the most logical choices for Cormier’s next fight, which could be his last, boiled down to just two names: Miocic and Jon Jones.
Cormier has a longrunning feud with Jones. But while the war of words has been evenly scored by most, the two fights between the two men were largely one-sided affairs which Jones dominated.
Daniel Cormier's friend and training partner @DeronWinn doesn't want to see a trilogy fight between Cormier and "cheat" Jon Jones. Do you agree?— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) April 24, 2019
Watch full interview: https://t.co/cCbrY3L5yS#theMMAHourpic.twitter.com/hc3K1Oaa1V
Considering Jones is just 31 years old and probably still in his prime as a fighter, Cormier probably matches up worse than ever against his grand nemesis. Moreover, Cormier hasn’t really expressed any interest in fighting Jones for a third time, though the last fight was overturned to a no contest after Jones failed a drug test.
That left Miocic, 36, the man who holds the record for UFC heavyweight title defenses, as the only viable option for Cormier and the UFC.
Besides, it makes sense for White and company to hedge against the idea of Cormier retiring on a high note with the promotable storyline of Miocic reclaiming his heavyweight championship throne. That way, no matter who wins the fight, the UFC has a clear story to celebrate and promote.