Like most anyone with a pulse, Daniel Cormier is eager to see what transpires in the UFC 220 headliner between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou.
If all goes well on Jan. 20, Cormier will be able to observe the bout after he defends the light heavyweight crown against Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event. While most of the hype is surrounding Ngannou, “DC” feels something of a kinship with Miocic.
“The closest thing I relate to is when Anthony Johnson was just killing everybody, and everybody thought that he was gonna blast right though me,” Cormier said at a recent press conference to promote UFC 220.” I was kind of like, ‘It’s fine. I’ll be OK.’ I think that’s what Stipe Miocic is feeling right now. You’ve got a scary guy in Francis Ngannou , who hits as hard as anybody we’ve ever seen and you’ve got a guy on the cusp of becoming the greatest UFC champion of all time.
“That’s what’s being missed in this. Stipe Miocic has won and defended this belt twice. If he wins again, he’s the most successful champion we’ve ever seen. And don’t forget he’s got five knockouts in a row himself. So somebody’s going to sleep, and I’m just glad I get to be in the building to watch it.”
Cormier doesn’t, however, have designs on moving up to heavyweight to face the winner. His current thinking is in contrast to what he said only a few weeks back, when he told MMAjunkie.com that facing the winner of Miocic-Ngannou would be “the most amazing thing in the world.”
“That would take some thinking, some talking and a real solid plan to try to get back to the type of weight that I would need to compete against those guys, Cormier said. “Because, again, I’m not going in there to lose and say I gave it my best shot. If I go in there with Miocic or Ngannou, I’m going to win. That’s just who I am.
“So that would just be me and my team really coming up with a solid plan on how I’m going to get up to a healthy, strong, 235, 240 pounds to go and fight those dudes.”
Perhaps it’s just his way of focusing on Oezdemir, but Cormier now claims that he spoke out of turn.
Do you see these guys? Do you see these dudes? I read that stuff and I don’t know what I was thinking back then,” Cormier said. “So no, I’m not gonna fight Stipe Miocic. I’m definitely not gonna fight Francis Ngannou. I’m good.”
Cormier’s decision could also have something to do with the impending return of American Kickboxing Academy teammate Cain Velasquez, a two-time former heavyweight champion. In December, Cormier posted that Velasquez was back to training. Velasquez will be an interested observer at UFC 220, as well, both because he helped Cormier prepare for Oezdemier and because of his stake in the heavyweight division.
Like [typical] Cain, “Stipe is good, you know. Francis, he hits hard I guess.' That’s pretty much what Cain says,’” Cormier said. “He respects Stipe. He doesn’t really know much about Francis because he doesn’t watch fights. He only saw the knockout because I think everybody’s seen the knockout of Overeem. He doesn’t really watch fights. He says he thinks it’s gonna be a great fight.
“He’s been helping me get prepared for my fight. He’s not really too much worried about these guys. He’s just getting healthy and just hoping that at some point he can come back and fight at the level he was before.”