Cormier planning final fight at heavyweight

Daniel Cormier's respect for teammate Cain Velasquez will officialy lead him down to 205 pounds. Ric Fogel for ESPN

Daniel Cormier is a highly ranked heavyweight contender, but a title shot is not in his foreseeable future thanks to a roadblock that he doesn't intend to trespass -- UFC champion Cain Velasquez.

The level of respect Cormier has for Velasquez is so great that he will never consider challenging his close friend. As long as Velasquez holds the belt, Cormier will not step in the cage with him -- no ifs, ands or buts.

In fact, Cormier is convinced that there isn't a heavyweight on the UFC roster who can defeat his American Kickboxing Academy teammate. With that in mind, Cormier has shifted to Plan B: He will fight once more at heavyweight before taking his talents to the 205-pound division.

"This is it, my next fight will be my last at heavyweight," Cormier told ESPN.com. "I want to try to fight a little lighter this time, and by the end of this year or early next year, I will fight my first fight at 205 pounds.

"I've gotten my plan together, and I'm tackling it head-on so I will be able to [cut weight] in the right way and feel pretty good competing. It's obviously going to be a process and not an easy process, but I'm willing to take that challenge. I want to be champion."

Cormier reiterated that he would love to challenge light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones, but it's not the source of his motivation for moving down in weight. If Jones is still competing at 205 when Cormier arrives, that would be terrific; if not, so be it. He plans to snatch the belt from whoever is wearing it at the time.

But first, Cormier has business to take care of at heavyweight. UFC officials have him penciled in to face the winner of Saturday's showdown between Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the UFC on Fuel TV 10 main event in Brazil or Roy Nelson.

Cormier will fight whomever UFC places in front of him, but he would prefer that person to be Nelson. During a recent media call to promote the June 15 UFC 161 card in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nelson said Cormier turned down an offer to fight him at the event.

"I got offered Daniel Cormier," Nelson said. "And he turned it down, and then [UFC officials] went down the list -- Travis Browne and so forth and so forth and so forth. I think [the fight] was already on the card, and you know, everybody in the UFC, you know, was waiting for -- was ready for a fight, and Stipe [Miocic] is the one who said 'yes.'"

Cormier, who is ranked third among heavyweights by ESPN.com, strongly denies Nelson's allegation.

"I didn't turn down a fight with him," he said. "I had issues early in my career with people not wanting to fight me, and I wouldn't want to do that to anyone else. Even my last fight in Strikeforce it was hard for me to get an opponent.

"Roy actually said that he was willing to fight me in Strikeforce, so it's a fight he obviously wants. But for him to say that I turned down the fight is not true. I couldn't fight him because I wasn't medically cleared. I did [ligament] damage to my hand during my last fight with Frank Mir. If I was medically cleared, I would have taken the fight. I'm not afraid of Roy Nelson, so let's fight."

While Miocic has heavy hands, Nelson is expected to leave the cage victorious -- and, hopefully, injury free. This is the outcome Cormier wants most. If Nelson comes through unscathed, Cormier would like to fight him in August or September.

"I've wanted to fight three or four times this year, and if I get this fight [with Nelson], that will make three," said Cormier, who is currently carrying 235 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. "Then I can begin focusing on other things, like changing my body to make [205]."