Daniel Cormier’s path to retirement may have taken a turn Sunday night.
The soon-to-be 40-year old UFC heavyweight champion was angling to fight one more time, preferably against Brock Lesnar.
But then came Francis Ngannou’s 26-second knockout of Cormier’s best friend and American Kickboxing Academy training partner, two-time former champion Cain Velasquez, which went down in the main event of UFC Phoenix.
Ngannou said he wanted a title shot next in the post-fight press conference, but did not call out Cormier in the cage afterward. Cormier indicated that if Ngannou does want a fight, he’s willing to oblige.
“Every time you see something like that, the emotions tell you you go get it back, you go make it right,” an emotional Cormier said Sunday night on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “But Francis Ngannou, who didn’t ask for a fight, maybe later he will, and if that’s something we decide we want to do, then that’s what I’ll do.
“I won’t go fight Francis Ngannou,” Cormier emphasized. “I will beat Francis Ngannou.”
Until the point if and when an Ngannou fight comes to pass, Cormier is left to help pick up the pieces after Velasquez’s disappointing loss. Making his first appearance in the Octagon in two-and-a-half years due to a back injury, Velasquez, whose tenacity in the cage when he’s healthy has only been matched by his unfortunate propensity for injuries, had his knee give out in Ngannou’s opening onslaught, leading to the fast stoppage.
Cormier was unable to attend the event at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, which only added to his disappointment in the aftermath.
“I know how hard he trained,” DC said. “I know how well he prepared for this fight, and for it to end the way that it did was very unfortunate, was very hard to watch, I wasn’t able to get to Phoenix. It’s sad, it makes me very sad that I’m not there right now, that he lost in this way.”
Having trained with Velasquez, he believes the former champ was ready to go, and simply got caught in one of those sort of things that happen in the sport of MMA.
“He looked good,” Cormier said. “I thought he was ready to fight, and I felt like he was ready to win this fight. You just cannot control some of the things that happen. He hurt his knee. And obviously you’re fighting a big powerful guy like Francis, there’s no room for error.”