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Daniel Cormier believes win over Stipe Miocic could make him ‘the greatest fighter of all time’

There’s more than just another championship belt on the line for Daniel Cormier at UFC 226.

With a storied amateur wrestling career, a 20-1 (with one no-contest) record in MMA, and multiple title defenses as the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, Cormier already has a rock-solid spot in the annals of combat sports. But with a superfight against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic looming, the thought of adding to his already astounding resume has crossed Cormier’s mind.

Cormier appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday, where he was asked if defeating Miocic on July 7, and becoming only the fifth fighter to win UFC titles in two divisions, would place him at the very top of the all-time rankings.

“I win this fight July 7, I’m the greatest fighter of all time,” Cormier said. “I’ve done something that was unheard of and that’s what I’ve always chased. I’ve always chased that. I chased it in the fights with (Jon) Jones because even regardless of the belts, I would always say, ‘Once I beat Jones, I will be the greatest fighter of all time.’ So I believe that once I do this, something that was so crazy that no one even has attempted it, I feel like I’m in the conversation for the best fighter of all time.”

A pair of fights with Jones failed to boost Cormier’s credentials, as the first ended with Jones taking a unanimous decision win and the second ending in a knockout loss for Cormier that was later changed to a no-contest when Jones failed a second test for performance-enhancing substances. The latter encounter has cast a shadow on both of their legacies and Cormier sees the Miocic clash as his chance to prove that he’s as good as anyone, even if he doesn’t get a third shot at toppling Jones, who is currently working to avoid a lengthy USADA suspension.

“When I think of a fight against Stipe, it’s a very tough fight and it’s a very difficult mountain for me to climb,” Cormier said. “But the reality was I’ve always talked about competition and legacy and when you think about legacy, if I’m able to pull this off, there’s no denying what I have meant to this sport and what I will leave behind whenever I’m done.”

Cormier began his career as a heavyweight, winning his first 13 fights before making the move down to 205 pounds. That decision was partially motivated by Cormier’s close relationship with American Kickboxing Academy teammate Cain Velasquez, a two-time UFC heavyweight champion.

Following the announcement of Cormier-Miocic, Velasquez issued a cryptic tweet addressing the potentially awkward situation that would be created by Cormier winning the belt in Velasquez’s division:

According to Cormier, he received Velasquez’s blessing and encouragement to pursue the championship bout opposite Miocic, considering that the oft-injured Velasquez has not competed since July 2016 and there are no guarantees he would get an immediate title shot.

Cormier teased that maybe Velasquez’s tweet was referring to a different kind of “interesting” altogether.

“The goal has always been for him to get the belt back and that will never change. That’s his goal, that’s my goal for him, that will never change,” Cormier said. “Once again, the decision was made after the well wishes were granted. But what if he said, ‘Things may get interesting’ meaning he might go to 205? Oooh, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? That would be some interesting stuff. I don’t know, what’s interesting? You never really know. That’s something that we know that you guys don’t and it feels good to not tell you.

“See what Cain says, let’s see if you can get Cain to tell you. Good luck with that.”

As for the light heavyweight crown, Cormier said he has no plans to abandon the division and would have already vacated the 205-pound title if that were the case. He also dismissed talks that he should have taken a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, stating that Gustafsson should have showed more urgency in trying to set something up with Cormier after “DC” beat Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220.

Cormier is strictly focused on Miocic now and the chance to make history as the first fighter to hold the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight belts simultaneously.

“I’m trying to do something that’s unheard of,” Cormier said. “I know there’s been two-division champions, Randy Couture had the light heavyweight belt and the heavyweight belt, but he didn’t do it at the same time. Conor McGregor is the biggest star in mixed martial arts and he held two titles at one time and I’m about to actually do that too so he’s been on the cover of (the EA Sports UFC 3 video game) two years in a row, next year I go on the cover of EA Sports UFC.”

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