Saturday night at UFC 241 could be the final time Daniel Cormier makes the long walk to the Octagon as a professional fighter. In a telling interview with Bleacher Report, Cormier acknowledged that he’s come to peace with his legacy, saying “I’m content with everything that I’ve done over the course of my career and if this is it, then I’d be OK with it.”
It’s quite the proclamation from Cormier, an all-time great in the world of mixed martial arts. It also helps that Cormier no longer feels he needs to beat Jon Jones to cement his place as one of the all-time greats.
“I’ve solidified my legacy outside of Jon,” Cormier said. “It has nothing to do with him. The crazy thing is our rivalry has been so big that everything is tied to it. But imagine if we never fought. Not even once. Nobody would ever ask me if I needed to fight someone else to cement my legacy, because of all the things I’ve accomplished elsewhere. So no, I don’t need to fight Jones again. That would be doing him a favor.”
Both Jones and Cormier have done this dance before. Jones previously said he had “nothing to prove” in a third fight against Cormier while his former light heavyweight foe talked about moving on, mentally, from the obsession with beating Jones. But as recently as May, Cormier was back to talking about needing to beat Jones before hanging up his gloves.
Who knows where Cormier goes from here. Should he dominate Miocic in their second go-around, he’ll leave no doubt over who is the greatest heavyweight of all-time. To be as dominant in two weight classes as Cormier has been is impressive in itself, with or without a win over Jones. Cormier knows, should he retire without beating the current light heavyweight champion, that an asterisk will hang over the career of Jones. He was popped for an illegal substance violation in their second tilt, and Cormier has been clear that, due to Jones’ transgressions, he shouldn’t be in the conversation as the greatest fighter of all-time. Cormier has an out, and he appears to be leaning toward taking it.
Who could blame him, though? He was knocked out in their second fight for the first time in his career. He’s spoken about wanting to spend time with his wife and kids at home. Cormier openly planned on retiring before he turned 40, but the thrill of at least one last fight stood in his way.
Cormier was clear in the interview, that despite certain interest from the WWE, he won’t be stepping inside the squared circle. Instead, he could make the transition to expand his broadcast career in the WWE. If he truly wants to spend time with family, it’s doubtful that would involve a regular role on either of WWE’s traveling television shows.
Only Cormier knows what’s next in the cards for him. And it’s fair to assume Saturday’s result will have plenty of influence.