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Daniel Cormier: Retiring ‘will be the hardest thing I’ll have to do’ but going out on top is like a ‘fairy tale’

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Daniel Cormier has been a competitor almost as long as he’s been alive.

From wrestling to mixed martial arts, the two-time Olympian and former two-division UFC champion has largely dedicated his life to athletics but after celebrating his 41st birthday just recently, he also understands that he can’t fight forever.

That’s why Cormier has targeted his next fight against reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic as his last even if people like UFC president Dana White have made it clear that he could easily keep going for several more years. Assuming he’s victorious in his trilogy with Miocic, Cormier’s decision would be that much harder because he’d be retiring with a title still wrapped around his waist.

“I believe I can [walk away],” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “It will be the hardest thing I’ll have to do but I believe I can and I think it will make everybody pretty happy in terms of my household, my wife and my kids. As much as they love watching me compete, the chance to see me go out on top would be a fairy tale. I believe I can.

“I’m probably one of the most competitive people you’ve ever met and that’s always going to tug at me. But I will have to put that focus to something else. I’ll have to work on my craft in front of the television in order to make up for that.”

In a perfect world, Cormier would be finishing negotiations for his trilogy with Miocic right now but the coronavirus pandemic has thrown everything into chaos these past few weeks. Ideally, Cormier still hopes to have his final fight this summer but he also understands this is an unprecedented situation that continues to evolve on a daily basis.

“If we’re not able to get back to work until the summer, that kind of falls in line with what I was thinking or what the organization and Stipe were thinking for our fight time,” Cormier explained. “The reality is it wouldn’t really affect us in the sense of us not being able to train like we can’t right now.

“As we got closer to the fight, we’d be able to get right back on schedule. Because the fight date was so far away, honestly, it doesn’t really affect us all that much.”

A big part of the delay in scheduling the fight has been Miocic recovering from eye surgery after suffering a torn retina in their last meeting.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Miocic had stated that he was finally ready to get back into training, which was exactly the news Cormier had been waiting to hear.

“It’s encouraging,” Cormier said. “It’s encouraging because for a while he wasn’t training. Then you start hearing all kinds of crazy things like he might have to retire and he won’t be able to do this and he won’t be able to do that. It’s very encouraging that he’s back to work and he’s going to be ready to fight.”

As much as Cormier would love to have a date and location set for his fight with Miocic, he understands that some things are more important than his quest to win back the UFC heavyweight title and retire as champion.

In addition to his job as a UFC fighter, Miocic is also a full-time firefighter near his home in Cleveland and he’s still working regular shifts in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, Cormier relishes the chance to avenge his past loss when they meet again but for now, he’s just rooting for Miocic to succeed as a first responder when people need him for that far more than they need to see him fight right now.

“One thing I saw the other day, Stipe said worrying about a fight right now is not on my mind. This guy is one of the people that does try to save lives and his responsibility right now is not to me or the UFC,” Cormier said. “It’s to all these people in the Cleveland area who need help from Stipe the firefighter not Stipe the heavyweight champion of the world.

“I believe his mind is in the right place but I am also happy and encouraged that he’s at least physically ready to start getting back to the work that is to my benefit to the most.”

Once the pandemic finally starts to slow down and people begin returning to work again, Cormier is confident that Miocic will turn his attention back to their fight.

The timing for the trilogy might be a little later than first anticipated but Cormier knows the end will justify the means.

“I believe [the trilogy] will happen,” Cormier said. “Not exactly sure when but I do believe it will happen.”

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