During an interview with Fox Sports 1 after UFC 220 on Saturday, UFC president Dana White expressed an interest in matching the winners of the evening’s two main attractions, the promotion’s light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, against one another in the near future.
Cormier looked impressive in finishing dangerous puncher Volkan Oezdemir with grounded strikes in the second round of the co-main event, while Miocic came through a few scares in a wild and wildly entertaining first round to outwork and really outclass the heavy-handed Francis Ngannou over five rounds in the main event.
The performances got White thinking super-fight.
“Stipe looked amazing tonight,” White told Megan Olivi. “Stipe fought his fight, did exactly what he needed to do, shot in, caught [Ngannou] with some big shots, avoided all the big shots early, and [Ngannou has] a lot of muscle to carry around for five rounds.”
“[Cormier] looked phenomenal,” added Dana. “He pressed the pace, he was getting in [Oezdemir’s] face, hitting him with big shots early on – he literally just took the fight away from Volkan. He looked incredible, he’s one of the greatest to ever do it. And I was just talking to him, I don’t see why he couldn’t fight at heavyweight. And if he thinks that Cain [Velasquez] might come back, then if [Cormier] won the belt he could give it up. But either way, [Cormier vs. Miocic] is a good fight. With all the defences [Cormier] has [at light-heavyweight], Stipe just broke the record for most defences [at heavyweight], so it’s a fun fight.
“I think that’s a fight people would like to see.”
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) January 21, 2018
Heavyweight, of course, isn’t uncharted territory for Cormier. He began his career among the big boys and put together a 13-0 run, scoring wins over big names like Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, before dropping down to 205lbs. However, when he was asked in the lead-up to UFC 220 about a possible move back to the division, Cormier ruled it out, pointing to the size of Miocic and Ngannou as one of the key reasons.
“Man, you guys see me next to these guys?” the 5’11 Cormier said at the UFC 220 open workouts. “Especially now. I understand I’m cutting weight, so I’m a lot smaller, but, just the size difference, just the size difference of guys like Francis [Ngannou] and Stipe [Miocic], it’s crazy(via MMAFighting).”
When he was asked about the possibility again at the UFC 220 post-fight press conference, however, Cormier’s answer was a little different and it touched upon something that White mentioned during his FS1 chat with Olivi.
“People have talked about that for a really long time. I mean, I did fight 13 fights at heavyweight and I hate cutting weight – as you guys all know,” said Cormier. “But I haven’t really thought about it.”
“It’s especially hard for me now, because Cain [Velasquez] is in the gym more. Cain is in the gym now getting prepared to do what he does best. I draw so much from him. Cain had a baby about a month ago and he’s here with me right now. I didn’t bother to ask him if he was coming to the fight because I didn’t know if it was possible because of the new baby. But, Wednesday afternoon, Cain comes to my room with his bags and he’s there for my weight-cut. Dude’s never [been in a sauna] in his life, he was shrivelling up like a grape. He looked like one of the California raisins by the time we were done with that sauna. But he’s there and I draw inspiration from him. And if he’s getting prepared to get that belt back, then I have nothing for that division. That will never change.”
Cormier’s initial move down to light-heavyweight was largely attributable to the fact that he didn’t want to be in direct competition with good friend and American Kickboxing Academy teammate Velasquez. With Velasquez, a former UFC heavyweight champion whose career has been blighted by injury, recently hinting at a comeback, now would indeed seem like a strange time for Cormier to move up in search of more gold.