BOSTON -- Don’t expect Daniel Cormier to make a return to the heavyweight division before he calls it a career.
The current UFC light heavyweight champion was tremendously successful at 265 pounds. He won his first 13 pro fights as a heavyweight, including a championship run in the Strikeforce Grand Prix tournament.
His move down to light heavyweight was in large part due to the fact that he didn’t want to fight his friend and training partner, UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez.
But despite the weight cuts getting more difficult as he gets older, and despite Velasquez, who is injured, not being likely to be hold the title any time in the near future, Cormier said his days of playing with the big boys are done.
“Man, you guys see me next to these guys?” Cormier said at Wednesday’s 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.”
Cormier has been thinking through such matters because, even though he’s champion, he and his family put a time limit on his fighting days, and he plans to stick by it.
DC turns 39 on March 20, and he doesn’t plan on fighting at 40, choosing instead to support his children’s athletic endeavors.
“I’ve always said that I won’t fight at 40,” Cormier said. “I’ve been vocal about that since I was 31 years old. This isn’t anything new. It’s not for a lack of wanting to compete. It’s not for a lack of motivation. It’s because we as a family made that decision a long time ago. That when I was older and I turned 40 years old, I would focus on other things. Like [son] Daniel’s wrestling. Of [daughter] Marquita’s gymnastics. I’ve been the sole focus of my family’s athletics since I was 15 years old. It’s time for me to be there for someone else.”
That said, Cormier’s light heavyweight title defense against Volkan Oezdemir on Saturday at TD Garden not only isn’t going to be his last fight, but he’s going to try to fit in as many as he can before he hits his self-imposed deadline.
“This isn’t my last fight though,” Cormier said. “Just because I say I won’t fight at 40 doesn’t mean I won’t fight five times this year. Because I love to compete. I may just hustle through fights so I can fight as many times as I can before I turn 40 years old.”
Just don’t ask him to fight a heavyweight.
“I don’t want to fight at heavyweight. I’ve kind of moved past that and I’m enjoying fighting where I fight.”