Potential Opponents for Daniel Cormier’s Title Defenses

Daniel Cormier's title defenses
during the UFC 226 event inside T-Mobile Arena on July 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Earlier this month, Daniel Cormier became the UFC’s second-ever concurrent dual-weight champion. The light heavyweight champion knocked out former heavyweight king Stipe Miocic in the first round of their UFC 226 encounter.

Many fans are currently wondering what “DC’s” plans are when it comes to defending his two titles. Cormier has repeatedly said he’ll retire as soon as he turns 40 on March 20. Assuming he sticks to that, Cormier likely has two remaining fights. In no particular order, who are the potential opponents at light heavyweight and heavyweight that could challenge Cormier for one of his titles?

Light Heavyweight

Corey Anderson 

Anderson is on a two-fight winning streak over Patrick Cummins and Glover Teixeira, who was the No. 3-ranked light heavyweight entering their bout this past Sunday. Anderson then took to Twitter to make it known that he is “down to fight” Cormier. “DC” told Anderson to find out when and where the fight would be and he’d be there.

Alexander Gustafsson

Gustafsson is the No. 1-ranked light heavyweight contender and the man most feel is in line to challenge Cormier next. Cormier once defended his belt against Gustafsson back at UFC 192 in October 2015 via split decision. “Gus” has been calling for a rematch ever since.

However, it’s unlikely that this fight happens, as the champ has soured on Gustafsson for calling out Luke Rockhold a day after Yoel Romero KO’d him and pulling out of UFC 227, among other things. Cormier said to Gustafsson, ‘You and I won’t share the Octagon again.’ You honestly never know, though, in a sport as unpredictable as MMA.

Jon Jones

Speaking of never knowing what will happen. Jones is still dealing with the aftermath of a USADA suspension dating back to his over-turned win over Cormier at UFC 214. Jones himself has said he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to return to the Octagon, as his disciplinary action is yet to be doled out.

If Jones is able to return before “DC” retires, it’s a fight that makes a lot of sense. Cormier wants it to bolster his legacy, there are questions surrounding Jones’ suspension, and it’d be a PPV blockbuster due to the pair’s fiery rivalry. The trilogy fight could happen at either light heavyweight or heavyweight.

Heavyweight

Brock Lesnar

Honestly, there’s a good chance this fight happens. Lesnar stepped into the ring after Cormier’s UFC 226 victory and shoved the champ, setting up heat for a potential showdown. Though some fans were dismissive of the WWE-esque spectacle of it all, there’s no doubt a Cormier vs. Lesnar PPV would sell well.

If Lesnar, a former UFC heavyweight champ himself, is able to return before Cormier retires, it would be an excellent send-off fight for Cormier. It’s likely that “DC” would have one more fight before a showdown with Brock, which makes a light heavyweight title defense all the more likely.

Stipe Miocic

One of Cormier’s last two bouts could always be a rematch with Miocic. In all honesty, Miocic deserves an immediate rematch more than most. He held the UFC heavyweight record for most title defenses with three. Some considered Miocic to be the greatest heavyweight of all-time, especially in the UFC.

The fight was also slightly marred by an eye-poke from Cormier not long before the finishing combination that put Miocic out. A rematch could draw fairly well on PPV, and would do much for the legacies of both Cormier and Miocic.

Curtis Blaydes

One man not happy with the possibility of Cormier vs. Lesnar is No. 3-ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes. At UFC 225, he did everything but punch a hole through Alistair Overeem’s head en route to a vicious KO. The only fighter to beat him, Francis Ngannou, was involved in a stinker with Derrick Lewis, which he lost. Ngannou won’t be challenging Cormier for the title before he retires.

Blaydes made a very strong case for a title shot with his win over Overeem, and him vs. Cormier would be an interesting stylistic match-up.

Derrick Lewis

Lewis ascended to the No. 2 spot in the heavyweight rankings with a decision win over Ngannou at UFC 226. Unfortunately, the fight was bad, and Lewis himself even admitted that the win probably put him further away from a title shot. So, Lewis likely won’t be earning a title shot at Cormier. However, he was worth mentioning as the No. 2-heavyweight. Plus, there’s this. Don’t disrespect Popeye’s Chicken, Daniel:

Alexander Volkov

This is a long-shot, but Volkov is currently the only other active heavyweight who makes sense for a title shot. He’s on a 6-0 run and has won his first four UFC fights over the likes of Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson. He most recently knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.

Volkov is still likely behind Miocic, Lewis and Blaydes on the depth chart, and Lesnar for sure when it comes to PPV sales, but he was worth a mention.

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