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Daniel Cormier voluntarily relinquishes UFC light heavyweight championship

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Daniel Cormier has voluntarily relinquished his UFC light heavyweight championship.

“Today I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title,” stated Cormier to ESPN on Friday. “I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I’ve defended with my all for three and a half years. Being stripped of a title suggests you’ve done something wrong, and I haven’t.

”I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped. I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it.”

This announcement comes just one day ahead of the scheduled UFC 232 light heavyweight title fight between former champion Jon Jones and former two-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Initially, Cormier was expected to be stripped his 205-pound title the moment Jones and Gustafsson entered the Octagon on Saturday night. Instead, “DC” has elected to give up his title on his own own terms.

However, Cormier (22-1, 1 NC) will remain the UFC heavyweight champion, a title he recently defended with a second-round submission over Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November.

Prior to this, fans saw the former U.S. Olympic wrestling captain earn his heavyweight crown with a first-round knockout over former champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July. This marked his first fight at heavyweight since 2013. His last light heavyweight contest came in the form of a second-round TKO over Volkan Oezdemir in their title fight at UFC 220 earlier this year.

To date, the only setbacks of Cormier’s professional career have come at the hands of Jones. However, what was initially a third-round TKO loss for Cormier at UFC 214, was later changed to a no-contest after Jones tested positive for a banned substance.

While the promotion has yet to announce Cormier’s next fight, his name has been closely linked to a potential heavyweight title fight against former champion Brock Lesnar sometime in early 2019.