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The lead-up to this weekend’s rematch between current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champion Stipe Miocic has been different than the first time around, to say the least.
Both men have been known as respectful opponents throughout their careers and it was no different when the pair met last July at UFC 226. That night, Cormier ended up knocking out Miocic in their first fight at UFC 226 while capturing the heavyweight belt along the way.
Miocic has spent a year chasing a rematch against “DC” and got his wish after the promotion couldn’t negotiate a deal for Cormier to fight World Wrestling Entertainment superstar and former UFC champion Brock Lesnar. However, during the lead-up to the rematch, interactions between the two men have been far more tense, with Cormier in particular asserting that Miocic dislikes him and that the feeling is mutual.
At Wednesday’s open workouts, the relationship between Cormier and Miocic was again a talking point. The champion told reporters that he had recently watched the ESPN promotional show “Destined” and that comments made by Miocic surrounding his feelings left him frustrated (via MMAJunkie.com):
“I couldn’t give two (expletives) about his feelings,” Cormier said. “I was watching something called ‘Destined’ today, and he said, ‘I get so upset thinking about it, it just pisses me off.’ Then I think his wife said when people talk trash, it just makes it worse for him. Well, the thing about our job is we get to punch each other in the face, so I’m gonna keep talking, or he can shut me up.”
Cormier believes after he knocked out Miocic in their first fight things had changed between them and some sort of animosity had built up. Cormier has been vocal about Miocic acting entitled by demanding an immediate rematch, given that their first fight ended by knockout in the opening round.
“He has changed after the loss,” Cormier said. “I think as an opponent it would be tough to spend six weeks with me anyways. I’m not saying I’m pleasant to be around, especially when I’m digging at you constantly. But I think he can deal with it the first time because of the idea he was going to win. But I think when you lose the fight it becomes more difficult, so that’s why you see him so pissed off at me.”
Miocic certainly didn’t cut a frustrated figure during his open workout and was his usual reserved self when speaking with reporters. The Ohio native said he feels indifferent towards his opponent.
“I have no feelings toward him either way,” Miocic said. “He needs to get out of high school and turn the page, honestly. He’s just, I don’t know what his deal is about my feelings. I just said I want a rematch. The dude literally cried on national TV, but whatever.”
“I don’t know if he’s trying to build up that he’s pissed off at me to make me something I’m not, but whatever,” Miocic added.
“It is what it is, man. We’re here to fight,” Miocic said. “I’m not here to make friends.”