Daniel Cormier says he's down to two fights left
When push came to shove, the UFC made Daniel Cormier an offer he couldn't refuse.
Cormier (21-1) will defend his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230 on Nov. 3 in New York. He accepted the fight on less than four weeks' notice, as the UFC was looking for a late, high-profile addition to its pay-per-view lineup at Madison Square Garden.
In addition to a short camp, Cormier is still dealing with a hand injury he suffered in his last fight back in July. Still, the 39-year-old said he couldn't decline the UFC's offer to headline New York -- and the paycheck attached to it.
"I didn't think I was going to fight on this card, but the deal I got was so good," Cormier said. "There was no way I could say no, honestly. Especially with a guy like Derrick, who is not known for the best cardio. I've got to start fast and hope I can push harder than him, even with a short camp."
Cormier is currently the heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, but that won't be the case by the end of the year. The UFC has booked a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29. At that time, Cormier will be stripped of his 205-pound title.
As long as he remains the heavyweight champion on Nov. 3, however, Cormier says he will have the choice to face the winner of that light heavyweight title fight, or WWE star Brock Lesnar, who is expected to compete in early 2019.
Cormier has always wanted to fight Lesnar, but Jones is his greatest rival, and is responsible for the only loss of his career. Cormier said his focus is on Lewis for now, and he will worry about his next (and likely, final) opponent when that time comes.
"Counting the Lewis fight, I think I'm down to two fights left," Cormier said. "Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise, the fact that I don't have a crazy, long fight camp to beat myself down. That may prolong it for me, but right now, I think I have this one and maybe one more. I can still fight in March and hit my retirement date. The one opponent that would matter to me most is Jones, because he's beaten me twice." (The second win was later overturned to a no contest due to a Jones positive drug test.)
"The one that would mean more financially would be Lesnar. I think I would always pick the one that means more, but my wife might have something to say about that."
Cormier admitted that his confidence against Lewis played into the decision to accept this short notice fight.
Not that he doesn't respect Lewis's power -- Lewis has 18 career knockouts -- but he said Lewis is an easier opponent to prepare for on short notice because of his limited style.
"I would not have accepted a rematch against Stipe Miocic on short notice, he's too good under these circumstances," Cormier said. "I'm not saying Derrick isn't good, but Stipe is capable of beating me in different ways. He does different things well. I think in this fight, Derrick has to knock me out to win.
"Usually, if a guy only has one path to victory, I do pretty well. Yes, I will admit the opponent factored into this."