He may be the light-heavyweight champ, and have a resume far more impressive than than anyone else, but Daniel Cormier is stuck pursuing a greatness that eludes him.
At UFC 226, he and heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic will meet in the main event. It is, obviously, a superfight of sorts, the kind of cross-divisional match-up that’s designed to make fight fans salivate with intrigue.
But usually, a fighter taking such a non-standard deviation from the normal trajectory of champs must first clear out their own weight class. In a way, Cormier has. He soundly thrashed his last challenger, Volkan Oezdemir, and the other light-heavyweights on the roster… well, Cormier’s beaten the best of them.
Except for Jon Jones.
When last they met, Jones kicked Cormier senseless, and for the briefest of moments was the champ. But we all know what happened after that. Jon Jones happened, and the subsequent failed drug test had the belt going right back to Cormier.
Still, Cormier could beat Oezdemir a thousand times and it will never erase that Jones loss, or the loss to Jones before that.
It was a no-brainer for Cormier to agree to the Miocic fight. Cormier has defeated plenty heavyweights in his career, and even won Strikeforce’s tournament devoted to the big guys. He may get punched the heck out by the firefighting champ’s massive fists, but he has the tools and experience to win.
But beyond the physicality of the match-up, there’s the notion of legacy. Cormier has admitted freely he’s in the tail-end of his career, and with a rematch with Jones likely forever out of reach, what’s Cormier going to do? Challenge Conor McGregor.
So it’s UFC 226 and heavyweight king Stipe Miocic, and maybe the stain of the Jon Jones losses will be scrubbed off just a little bit, and maybe not. But here we are, along for the ride in Daniel Cormier’s pursuit of greatness.