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Daniel Cormier on Stipe Miocic: ‘I can’t duck the guy I just beat within one round three months ago’

Daniel Cormier defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Daniel Cormier is defending his heavyweight title at UFC 230. He’s doing so against hard-charging contender Derrick Lewis, and not Stipe Miocic, the record-breaking former UFC champion from whom Cormier captured the belt.

And safe to say, Miocic is not happy about that.

The two heavyweights have butted heads on social media numerous times since Cormier’s first-round knockout victory over Miocic at UFC 226. That bickering has only escalated in recent weeks since Cormer vs. Lewis was announced as the short-notice main event of UFC 230, with Miocic accusing “DC” of ducking him for the Nov. 3 show and claiming that “everybody knows” he would beat Cormier nine times out 10 in a rematch.

Cormier is a grizzled veteran of the fight game who understands the promotional side of the sport well, and he has fired off his fair share of responses to Miocic’s attacks, so he can’t fault the former champion for trying to publicly lobby for a second chance. But that being said, Cormier also finds Miocic’s claim of ducking to be somewhat laughable.

“It’s all about perception,” Cormier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “So if you can create this idea that I ducked him, then okay, maybe you’ll get some people to rally and support you. And it’s worked. I have never seen Stipe Miocic have so much support in my whole entire career. I mean, people are like, ‘Why are you ducking Stipe?’ I put a picture up about this kid who signed a scholarship to go to college the other day, and I got a whole bunch of people going, ‘Why are you ducking Stipe?’ I’m like, I can’t duck the guy I just beat within one round three months ago. I’m not ducking him.

“If anything, I was trying to give Stipe credit for the fact that he’s a good fighter, that I wanted to give him my best effort. Right? I want to fight him at my best, so I need six weeks and not a busted up hand to fight him. But people get a little bit desperate when something that they truly love gets taken away from them, and you can see it in Stipe.”

Cormier, 39, has vowed to retire next March following his 40th birthday. The current UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, “DC” was expected to stay on the sidelines until an early 2019 meeting with Brock Lesnar, however those plans changed when the promotion asked if he would step in on short notice to help save UFC 230’s main event. Cormier obliged despite still dealing with an injured hand stemming from his UFC 226 win.

Miocic, meanwhile, has publicly claimed that he was offered the Nov. 3 fight against Cormier just like Lewis was, but Cormier turned down the fight.

Asked for his side of the story, Cormier said the UFC simply asked him about defending his title against Lewis after “The Black Beast” scored a thrilling come-from-behind win over Alexander Volkov at UFC 229, and Cormier accepted despite still battling issues with his injured hand. Lewis has won nine of his last 10 fights, and Cormier said the UFC was hoping to capitalize on Lewis’ viral momentum.

“People love Derrick, man,” Cormier said. “I mean, look at the numbers. Derrick Lewis’ social media exploded after UFC 229. I think the guy gained like 700,000 followers overnight. It’s crazy. He has a way to draw people in because he’s so loose. The guy is out there having a good time. I mean, Derrick Lewis, in one night he’s got 1.3 million social media followers. Stipe was the heavyweight champ of the world for almost two years and has 700,000.

“And it’s sad too, because Stipe is the type of guy who everyone should rally around. He’s a fireman, he’s a great guy, he’s a good competitor. But they liked that something different in Derrick, because he’s something different and he’s got momentum right now.”

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