Daniel Cormier never had a problem giving Stipe Miocic a rematch.
Last July, the two-time Olympian cemented his place in history by knocking out Miocic in the first round to become the first fighter in the UFC to hold both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles simultaneously. It was a momentous occasion for Cormier not only because he did what had never been done before but also due to the fact that he had demolished the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history in under five minutes.
After the fight ended, Cormier turned his attention to a potential showdown against WWE superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar while Miocic stayed laser focused on an automatic rematch.
Miocic felt like his title reign had earned him the opportunity to get a second shot at Cormier, especially considering so many past UFC champions have been afforded similar concessions under lesser circumstances.
In the months following the fight, Miocic repeatedly called for the rematch and what was once a friendly rival between two top heavyweights ended up with a few insults being lobbed between them.
While he still holds no ill will towards Miocic personally, Cormier says facing the Ohio native was never in question, he just had a problem with the way he went about getting the rematch.
“I understood that he wanted the rematch. Who wouldn’t after he lost in the way that he did? I just didn’t like the approach,” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “Because we’re sitting here in the same situation that we were last July after he lost. He knew he was going to get a rematch because I said I’d do it. The moment Brock Lesnar retired, I said OK I want to fight Stipe again. But in this down time, he could have fought somebody and if he would have fought somebody and won dominantly as he had done so many other times during his title reign, people would be nipping at the bud for a fight.
“That’s the only reason. I don’t like it with people feeling entitled. He was being very entitled and I know I said I was going to give him the rematch. I just wish he had gone out there and smashed on someone and just gained some momentum going into the fight.”
Perhaps the only problem that Cormier had with an immediate rematch was that it was going to be nearly impossible to top his first performance.
Knocking out Miocic so emphatically in the opening round was virtually the perfect ending for Cormier but for anyone saying that he just landed a lucky punch, he’s happy to do it again at UFC 241.
“I don’t think the fight could go any better. That was lightning in a bottle to win the fight the way that I did,” Cormier said. “Stipe said something to the effect that I won the lottery. I don’t feel that I won the lottery. If I won the lottery, it was in the way that the result happened, not in the result. I thought I was going to win the fight regardless but the way that it happened that may have been a lottery ticket because my profile has raised tremendously since that happened.
“Maybe I hit the lottery in that sense that I did it in the most impressive fashion that I could have dreamt of but the result was always going to be the same with me winning.”
Following the announcement that they would meet again in August, Cormier said that for all Miocic has accomplished in his career, he just didn’t believe the former champion had the skills to beat him.
That statement got more than a few ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd gathered to watch the press conference where Cormier and Miocic came face to face for the first time since their last fight but nothing that was said was based on hyping up the rematch.
Cormier can trash talk with the best of them but when he says Miocic doesn’t have what it takes to beat him, he absolutely means it.
“I think I win this fight very convincingly. I think if the result in the first fight was surprising, the result in the second fight shouldn’t surprise people,” Cormier said. “Because I just feel in terms of strength of schedule, the people that I’ve fought, the level that I’ve fought at, it’s prepared me more for these moments. He’s been in some big fights, this might title fight No. 4 for Stipe. This is like title fight No. 9 for me. I’ve only fought at the highest level of the sport. I think not only does that experience prepare me but I feel I matchup very well with Stipe Miocic.
“That’s why I said that. I’m not saying that just trying to be an asshole. I’m saying it because I truly believe it.”
If there’s an added bonus to beating Miocic again, Cormier looks at this as his chance to further solidify his position as one of the greatest fighters of all time. If beating the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history already put him in that category, imagine what a second win will do for his legacy.
“When it’s all said and done, if there’s a Mount Rushmore in mixed martial arts, I should be on it,” Cormier said. “I think that’s regardless of the outcome in August but after I beat Stipe again, I think people should respect what I’ve done and hold it on high next to anyone else.”