Leading up to – and especially after – Daniel Cormier’s one-sided win over Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event of last weekend’s UFC 220 from Boston, Massachusetts, there was a decent amount of talk about Cormier moving back up to his original division of heavyweight.
UFC president Dana White, who claims he ‘doesn’t make fights’ right after fights ended, teased a potential match-up between Cormier and record-breaking heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic, who beat formerly surging hype train Francis Ngannou at UFC 220. Cormier quickly shot that hype down, however, instead pointing at his good friend and longtime American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teammate Cain Velasquez as the man who should face the dominant Miocic next.
Former champion Velasquez has been out of action since a 2016 TKO of Travis Browne at UFC 200, and countless injuries have rendered him unable to build any sort of consistency. It’s an unfortunate situation for a man many were billing as potentially the greatest heavyweight of all-time, but the 35-year-old Velasquez apparently isn’t done yet after teasing his return earlier this year.
On this week’s edition of UFC Tonight (quotes via Bloody Elbow), Cormier offered the stance he still wouldn’t favor anyone against a healthy Velasquez. Based on his extensive training history with the former champ, he’ll be staying at his more suitable weight class of 205 pounds because he ‘can’t beat’ Velasquez:
“You know, I still wouldn’t favor anybody against Cain Velasquez but obviously I’m a bit biased. But man, you got to look at those big dudes and know that that’s really not my weight class. I’m not as big. I mean, I know my face looks really fat right now compared to last weekend but those are heavyweights and heavyweights, those are the lands of the giants, man and i’m going to steer clear of those boys. And if somebody beats Cain Velasquez, just know that they’re probably going to beat me too because I can’t beat Cain *laughs*.”
Loyalty and comradery aside, Cormier doesn’t have too many legit contenders left in the shallow light heavyweight landscape outside of a rematch with top-ranked Alexander Gustafsson, whom he beat in a razor-thin slugfest at UFC 192 that was one of 2015’s best fights, making a move back to heavyweight an exciting prospect.
But with only a few fights left in him and a target date for his retirement, the soon-to-be 39-year-old isn’t going to change anything big heading into what could be the final year of his MMA career, so expect to potentially see Cormier vs. Gustafsson and Miocic vs. Velasquez in the near future.
The former should be another match to remember; let’s just hope Velasquez can make it to the octagon for the latter.