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Stipe Miocic not expected to return until 2020 due to eye injury sustained in Daniel Cormier rematch

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The expected trilogy between UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier will likely have to wait until 2020.

On Tuesday, Miocic’s manager Jim Walter of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment confirmed that the two-time champion was still recovering from injuries suffered in his last fight with Cormier from August that would likely keep him sidelined through the end of the year.

According to Walter, Miocic was dealing with the fallout from an eye poke that hindered his vision during and after the fight with Cormier at UFC 241, which led to a procedure being done on the Cleveland native after the fight.

“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” Walter said in a statement initially reported by ESPN.

“Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”

Miocic will visit his eye doctor again in a a few weeks to be re-evaluated while determining if any further action is needed to repair the damage done, but with limited time remaining in 2019, it’s highly unlikely he would return again this year.

Miocic faced a similar problem in his first fight with Cormier back in 2018, but on that night, he suffered a first-round knockout that cost him the heavyweight title.

While the eye pokes may have been an issue, Miocic did not want to address it in his pre-fight interview with MMA Fighting ahead of UFC 241 saying “next question” when asked about it.

Miocic then surged to a comeback victory in the rematch after he returned the favor and knocked out Cormier in the fourth round in August.

Just recently, UFC president Dana White confirmed the promotion was working towards a trilogy between the two heavyweights with Cormier later announcing that he would return for one more fight against Miocic after considering retirement following their most recent meeting.

While Cormier seemed happy to face Miocic again as early as UFC 245 in December, it appears the heavyweight champion will not be ready to fight again until sometime in 2020.

As of now, the UFC hasn’t announced a schedule for next year, but it’s likely the Miocic vs. Cormier trilogy will be high priority once both fighters are healthy and ready to return.