After stepping in on short notice to help save the UFC 230 main event, the end is in sight for Daniel Cormier.
“DC” performed exactly as expected at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, as he grounded underdog Derrick Lewis repeatedly before submitting “The Black Beast” with a rear-naked 2:14 into the second round of their heavyweight championship headliner. That victory sets up the fight Cormier was targeting as soon as he become heavyweight king over the summer — a potentially lucrative showdown with Brock Lesnar.
With the UFC having announced its schedule for the first quarter of 2019, Cormier has a target date in mind for that matchup. UFC 235 is scheduled for March 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, just a few weeks before Cormier’s 40th birthday. The American Kickboxing Academy product has stated repeatedly that he plans to retire before he hits that milestone.
“That could be the retirement fight for ol’ DC. That’s crazy, right? When you start to think about it,” Cormier at the UFC 230 post-fight press conference. “Talk about having an opportunity to go out on an all-time high, headlining in Vegas against Brock Lesnar before I turn 40, two weeks before my birthday, have my biggest fight. Yeah, it’s crazy.”
Until then, it doesn’t appear that Cormier will be taking any other fights. He will be stripped of the light heavyweight belt so Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson can vie for the vacant title at UFC 232 on Dec. 29. UFC President Dana White said Cormier deserves some rest before his farewell fight.
“I really appreciate him stepping up and taking this fight. He needs to take some time off and spend some time with his family and heal his body up,” White said. “You think about Cormier, this guy’s been doing this for a very long time, you know, wrestling and mixed martial arts. He’s going to be 40 years old soon. He’s got a lot of wear and tear on his body. Take some rest. He’s an absolute freak, man. He’s such a talented guy. And when I say talented, in every way, shape and form.”
Cormier had a year to remember in 2018, as he become the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend titles in two different weight classes. He kicked off his campaign with a dominant victory over Volkan Oezedmir in a 205-pound title defense at UFC 220 in January before becoming two-division champ with a first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. He capped of the year with his submission of Lewis at UFC 230. “DC” agrees with White that some rest and relaxation is in order.
“I’m glad that he wants me to take some time, because I stepped up on short notice,” Cormier said. “And honestly, I’ve fought three times this year with three finishes – three championship fights, three finishes. I’ve had a big year, probably one of my more active years I’ve had in a long time. And it just feels good to get my hand raised. It looks like March 2, 2019 could be the last time you guys see me fight in the Octagon.”