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Fightweets: Daniel Cormier’s retirement deadline approaches

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

We’ve got another week left until things pick up again in the cage, but there’s been no lack of stuff to discuss outside. So let’s jump right into another edition of Fightweets:

Will DC stay or go?

@DavidHa80061548: Will @dc_mma retire as scheduled even without fighting or will he continue his reign as HW champ?

There’s a funny thing about retirement talk in combat sports. A fighter can say he or she is going to leave the sport on a certain date. They can say they don’t want to fight past a certain age. Most of them fully believe it when they say it, too.

How things turn out in practice, though, tends to be something totally different.

For every Mark Munoz, who gets a memorable sendoff in his homeland and then stays retired, there are one too many Tito Ortizes, who somehow has gamed this system to the degree retirement talk goes in one ear and out the other and you don’t even give it a second thought when he returns; to Chuck Liddell making a very unfortunate comeback after eight years away; to B.J. Penn’s career story getting sadder and sadder with each successive loss.

None of those Hall of Famers, though, were in the position of future HOFer Daniel Cormier.

Cormier is at the top of his game, one of three champ-champs in UFC history, still holding the heavyweight title after relinquishing the light heavyweight belt last month. DC announced around this time last year he wasn’t going to fight after he turned 40. That date, March 20, is now just more than two months away.

Not only does Cormier not have a fight lined up at this point, but the biggest money fight out there, the Jon Jones trilogy bout, isn’t going to happen before the deadline, not with Jones presently slated to fight Anthony Smith on March 2. And Brock Lesnar, another big-money fight, doesn’t appear to be fighting again any time soon.

So unless we’re going to get some sort of blockbuster fight announcement really soon for something on short-ish notice, then either Cormier is going to walk away without fighting again, or he’ll fight past his self-imposed deadline.

If it’s the former, Cormier has options in life. He’s going to be in demand as a commentator for a long time to come. He’s a wrestling coach, something he loves doing. The combination of the two can make for a nice living long after you’ve put your gloves down in the Octagon.

If it’s the latter, can you really get mad at him? The deadline was entirely self-imposed. There is no groundswell of fans clamoring for Cormier to walk away. And while the previous scenario was indeed a good living, it doesn’t compare to the paydays he can get fighting Jones or Lesnar or Stipe Miocic, all of which represent more money than he’ll ever make in one night again.

DC’s playing things close to the vest at the moment. But if history is any indication, don’t be surprised at all if he changes his mind on the retirement front.

UFC Australian cards

@jza575: Why has the UFC let UFC 234 be such a weak PPV card with only 2 fights with ranked fighters?

Not only did I get several questions along these lines, but they got more likes on Twitter than any other questions submitted this week, which seems solid anecdotal evidence Australian fans aren’t thrilled with the depth of the card being offered at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Feb. 9.

And you can understand why. How many fights off last month’s UFC Adelaide card can you name off the top of your head without looking them up? And UFC 221 in Perth a year ago, the draw of which was supposed to be Robert Whittaker’s first full UFC middleweight title defense, was dreadfully thin to begin with, then Whittaker pulled out and Yoel Romero fought Luke Rockhold for an interim belt he couldn’t win when he missed weight.

The top two fights of UFC 234 are pretty killer. But if one falls out, we’re looking at one shallow card, and this wouldn’t be the first time that happened Down Under.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

That’s the example of how things can go wrong. On the other hand? UFC 234’s top two fights have the potential to make for a memorable evening. Whittaker will finally return home in a really intriguing title defense against Kelvin Gastelum. As for the co-main, this could be Israel Adesanya’s big breakthrough moment, and I mean, c’mon now, are you really going to quibble with whether Anderson Silva is ranked or not?

Granted, if even one of those fights fall out over the next few weeks, UFC 234 becomes the next UFC 221 depth-wise. But if they hold up, I mean, I’m pretty sure fans in other countries would pay to see a card topped by those two fights if Australia doesn’t want it.

The Colby Covington situation

@SchatzleEsq: Isn’t all this drama about Colby getting passed over for the title much ado about nothing, if the winner of Woodley-Usman is healthy and fights him in June/July? he could actually use this situation to his advantage- insufferable martyr, consistent w MAGA gimmick, right?

I mean, sure, I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t get a cheap chuckle out of this situation: What, a MAGA guy fell for a line of bullsh*t? Stunner!

But that aside, let’s try to judge this case on its merits. Covington has unquestionably gotten the job done in the cage. He’s a superlative fighter, as he’s proven over the course of his six-fight win streak. He’s also, for better or worse, managed to stand out amongst the clutter. People love him or want to see him get his ass kicked, and that’s the way to get paid in this business.

He also was the beneficiary of a questionable call to crown an interim welterweight champion in the first place. Somewhere in this week's news, the fact the UFC was quick to create an interim title in a division in which Woodley had fought four times in a year got erased from the narrative. So, too, did the fact that the UFC also yanked away Tony Ferguson’s interim belt when it was convenient for them to do so.

(Side note: Usman is an Ali Abdelaziz client. Say what you will about Adbelaziz, the man gets his guys into big fights, and he comes through for the UFC when they need things done in a pinch. Frankie Edgar didn’t say no to Brian Ortega when Max Holloway had to pull out last year. Khabib Nurmagomedov agreed to the switches from Ferguson to Holloway to Al Iaquinta all in the span of a week. As long as things like these keep happening, whether you like Abdelaziz or not, his fighters are likely going to keep being rewarded in these situations).

Colby was the beneficiary of a questionable decision last year and is the victim of one this year. Was the latter fair to him? No. But how often are things fair in MMA?

@darrenbustos: Who does Colby match up with now that Kamaru-TWood is booked?

For now? While there have been rumors about Covington fighting Darren Till, he should just sit back and see what happens over the next few weeks. If either Usman or Woodley have to pull out of the fight, then one suspects Colby will pretend his spat with Dana never happened just as quickly as his hero tried to pretend that he never said Mexico will pay for a wall.

TJ Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo

@hunt5588: Pull out your crystal both TJ and Henry make weight?

@tbilbrey1: If Cejudo wins, is the next fight Cejudo moving up to fight TJ for his belt in the rematch?

I’m going to package these two questions together, since this is going to be next week’s prevailing storyline.

I saw the same pic making the rounds this week of a small and shredded Dillashaw. He says he’s walking around at about 138 pounds. I won’t claim to know the specifics of T.J.’s training and dietary plan, but to the layman it sure looks like there isn’t a hell of a lot left to safely cut. Throw in a New York State Athletic Commission that has proven cautious on these matters to the point of being trigger happy and yeah, “Will TJ make weight?” is a valid question and one which will be asked from now until well after you get sick of hearing about it.

As for the second question, that’s a wrinkle I have to admit I hadn’t thought through. So let’s assume for the sake of argument that both fighters make weight and Cejudo defeats Dillashaw. I mean, if we’re making champ-champ fights, what’s a more convincing argument than “I just defeated the champ from a weight class up, and he still has the belt”? I understand there is a murderer’s row at 135 pounds with valid claims to title shot. But if Cejudo wins in Brooklyn on Saturday night, that suddenly becomes the bantamweight division’s elephant in the room.

Sick of GOAT talk

@MessyKen: Is there any chance you could hold some kind of journo get together and collectively agree to not use the term “GOAT” for at least a year. Its so frigging galling keep reading and hearing it over and over. Every time I see/hear it...

I understand why people get tired of hearing “Greatest of All-Time” discussions. It’s an easy crutch of a subject for talk show hosts to use to kill a segment on a slow day.

But there are a couple things you also need to consider: Don’t forget this sport is still just 25 years old. As such, the title of “best ever” is going to change a whole lot more frequently than there is for a mature sport. There was highly likely more frequent change in the topic of best baseball player ever during the 1800s than there is now that organized baseball is 150 years old.

Now, let’s take this another step further: I’m going to take the liberty here of assuming that the recent talk about whether Amanda Nunes is the women’s GOAT is the reason you’ve felt moved to ask this question, since that’s what has been in the headlines recently. And in this case, women’s MMA has only been a part of the of the bigger consciousness for about a decade and in the UFC going on six years.

When MMA started, we went in rapid succession from Royce Gracie being considered the king to the Mark Colemans to the Frank Shamrocks in real short order. What we’re witnessing now is the women’s version of such rapid progression. So, sorry, but GOAT talk isn’t going to go away any time soon.