LAS VEGAS — The way Daniel Cormier sees it, no matter what happens he’ll be leaving Madison Square Garden with a UFC title next month.
Cormier will defend his heavyweight belt against Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230 on Nov. 3 in New York. He is also the current light heavyweight champion, but will be stripped of the title at UFC 232 when Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson meet for the undisputed gold.
In Cormier’s mind, though, he is only being stripped because he has no current plans to defend the 205-pound belt. If he loses the heavyweight strap to Lewis, that could all change.
“Because if I lose to Derrick, then who is to say I don’t go, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go defend my light heavyweight title. Now you can’t take it,’” Cormier said Friday at a media day at the UFC Performance Institute. “Maybe that adds a whole other part to the equation. You can’t take both of my belts if I lost that one. Right? So do I really have that much to lose if I have a second one? Look at it like that.”
Cormier’s current plan is to beat Lewis and then defend the heavyweight title against Brock Lesnar — in a major money fight — sometime in early 2019. Cormier has stated he plans to retire in March of next year and Lesnar would likely be his final bout.
However, if Lewis beats him and becomes heavyweight champion, that would alter Cormier’s path. He could go back to 205 pounds and welcome a challenger there.
“I am the light heavyweight champion until those guys fight,” Cormier said of Jones and Gustafsson. “So if the light heavyweight champion loses his heavyweight title and goes, ‘Wait I’m willing to defend my belt,’ now we have some conversations to have.”
Jones, Cormier’s longtime rival, has expressed interest in fighting Lesnar and the feeling is mutual. It would be a huge fight for both men and the UFC — one of the biggest in history. However, Cormier said he is not concerned that Jones will steal that fight from him.
“I gotta be honest with you,” Cormier said. “Over the course of my career, I haven’t been done like that. I’ve never had anything promised to me that hasn’t been delivered. The UFC has been good to me. And I don’t worry about that. I know I’m gonna fight Lesnar and there’s nobody or anything that could change that. They’ve never done me like that, so there’s no reason to believe it would start now.”
Going into the fight with Lewis, where Cormier is a big fight, “DC” said he’s not any more worried than usual, even though the Lesnar payday is likely at stake. If Lewis wins, that fight is off the table for Cormier. But the former wrestling Olympian said being without gold isn’t foreign territory. It happened as recently as last year when Jones beat him for the 205-pound title at UFC 214 before the fight was overturned to a no contest due to Jones’ positive drug test.
“There’s anxiety every time I fight, but that doesn’t matter,” Cormier said. “You’ve gotta remember, to think, ‘Oh man, it could all be gone in no time,’ last July I had zero — I lost. And then they said, Here you can have it back. I mean, really. I had none. I had no titles. From 2009 to 2013, I had no UFC titles. For about a month in 2017, I had no UFC titles. Not having a UFC title isn’t new to me. It’s just now I have them in abundance. I’ve got two.”