Daniel Cormier has long said he will retire from professional MMA by the time he turns 40 years old. Although, with that retirement date only three months away and his star shining as bright as ever, it is difficult to see the UFC heavyweight champion walk away from competing at this stage.
2018 will go down as a monumental year in the Olympian’s career.
It started at UFC 220 in January when he coolly dispatched of Volkan Ozedimer to recapture his light-heavyweight belt.
On that same night, Stipe Miocic halted the Francis Ngannou hype train to become the most successful UFC heavyweight of all time, and set-up a super fight with Cormier at UFC 226 in July.
The two champions squared off as the showpiece event on international fight week, and it was “DC” who came out on top, knocking out Miocic to become only the second simultaneous two-division champion.
Cormier rounded off the year by headlining Madison Square Garden when he stepped up on late notice to defend his heavyweight gold against Derrick Lewis. Again it was a short nights work for Cormier as he submitted Lewis in the second round.
The AKA champion capped off a monumental 2018 when he was crowned ESPN Fighter of the Year.
He could ride off now into the sunset with his legacy firmly cemented, and his family’s future well set-up, however, there are some options out there at both heavyweight and light-heavyweight, and coach Javier Mendez admits that the UFC boss, Dana White is working on keeping “DC” active beyond his 40th year.
“If Dana had his way, there’d be three left. And you know what, Dana has a pretty good way of persuading people,” Mendez told MMA Fighting.
“I like Dana, so I don’t know — we may see two or three [more fights]. I don’t know, I think so. I think Dana has a way of making things good for DC and making it right, so yeah, possibly. I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Whatever Cormier decides to do, Mendez intends to support. Whilst he may rather see “DC” ride into the sunset a champion, he is aware that his health is not under threat fighting at his age, such is his superiority over opponents.
“For me, I love DC so much, that if DC says tomorrow, ‘Jav, I’m done,’ then I’m going to encourage him to be done. But if he says, ‘Jav, I want to fight again,’ then I’m going to be onboard with him,” Mendez said.
“I’m with whatever DC wants. I love that guy so much, he’s such a great team captain and a great individual and a great friend. He’s not endangering his health, so for me, whatever he wants, I’m going to be onboard.”
Jon Jones returned at UFC 232 last weekend to reclaim the UFC light-heavyweight title. Jones instantly called out Cormier for a trilogy bout. It is a fight that now looks a distinct possibility given the rivalry between the pair, but Mendez feels a trilogy fight must be a heavyweight.
“Would I rather have him at heavyweight, yeah,” Mendez said.
“But knowing DC, the competitor that he is, he lost to [Jones] as a light heavyweight — I wouldn’t be surprised if DC says [a potential third fight is at] light heavyweight.
“But me personally, if he asks my advice, I’m gonna say if you’re gonna fight the guy, then I would like it at heavyweight.”
For Mendez though, the only fight he wants to see Cormier take on before he hangs up his gloves is a super fight against former UFC heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar.
“But really, like I said, for me, I only want him to fight Brock, one fight, call it quits.
“He’s such an incredible coach, he’s an incredible analyst. Man, that guy is just made for TV. So, to me, he doesn’t need fighting. He doesn’t need it. So for me, I’m with whatever he wants to do, but if I had a choice I would say fight Brock and then call it quits.
“Don’t fight anybody else. You don’t need to, you don’t need to. Move on, do some other great things, be involved with your son, watch him grow, watch him mature, watch him do their things like you always wanted to do. That’s what I would do.
“But DC’s the boss, so he calls the shots.”