(Reuters) – Former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier intends to reclaim the belt he lost to Stipe Miocic when the two face off again in Las Vegas on Saturday, but regardless of the result, the 41-year-old says that this time he’s retiring for good.
Cormier is returning to the octagon for a third fight against Miocic, from whom he won the heavyweight belt in 2018 only to lose it in the rematch just over a year later. It was then that Cormier first walked away from the sport.
“I’m going into the fight Saturday with the idea that this is the last time I’ll walk into the octagon. I’m very excited,” the Louisiana native told Reuters from his Las Vegas training camp.
“I’m content with my career. I think I’ve had as good a career as I ever could have expected, so win or lose — with all the intentions to win, as I do on Saturday — I think this will be the last time you see me fight in the UFC.”
Cormier started out his combat sports career as a wrestler, winning U.S. national and Pan-American championships and competing at the Olympics before switching to MMA.
He went on to hold the UFC light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles simultaneously before retiring after his loss to Miocic to concentrate on a media career.
However, the promise of a trilogy fight with Miocic and one last shot at glory has lured him back from his hiatus. To reclaim the belt, he will have to find a way of dealing with the crippling body shots the 37-year-old hammered him with last time.
“Any time a punch like that lands as many times as it did in such a short time-frame, of course you’re going to worry about it a little bit. For me to think that not one body shot is going to land, that’s insane,” he said.
“I just have to limit the damage on the shots that I take. We’ve been diligent in our preparation, knowing that he’s going to try to go to that well again, and when he does we have to do things to make him pay for throwing that body shot.”
After 22 wins and two losses as a pro, Cormier says he will have no regrets when he turns his back on fighting.
“I’m blessed to have had so many opportunities to fight for championships as I have had,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge)