Daniel Cormier can no longer be called a current two-weight world champion. The current heavyweight champion is now the former light heavyweight champion ahead of UFC 232’s main event between Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title.
Cormier told Ariel Helwani of ESPN that he is relinquishing his title before the pay-per-view event because he doesn’t want to be “stripped of his title”. In his statement to ESPN, Cormier says that he doesn’t want the wrong impression being given as his status as a champion, adding that the UFC can have their title back.
“I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I’ve defended with my all for three and a half years. Being stripped of a title suggests you’ve done something wrong, and I haven’t. I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped.
I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it.”-Daniel Cormier to ESPN
After losing the title to Jon Jones at UFC 214 in July of 2017, Cormier was once again named champion after Jones failed a drug test after their fight and the California State Athletic Commission overturned the fight to a no-contest. Cormier would go on to defend the light heavyweight title against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 in January of 2018 and had seemingly cleaned out the division’s top challengers at the time.
With no real challenge for him at the time, Cormier moved up to heavyweight to challenge then champion Stipe Miocic, at UFC 226 and D.C. would defeat him by first-round TKO to become the second fighter ever to be a simultaneous two-weight UFC champion. Following his historic win over Miocic, Cormier would go on to become the first fighter to defend two titles in two separate weight classes when he would defeat Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November of 2018.
Cormier has said that he will retire in March of 2019 when he will turn 40-years old but has been engaged in a war of words with his rival, Jones, due to his failed drug tests. Following the UFC’s relocation of UFC 232, Cormier was vocal about Jones’ failed tests, which began the vocal battle between the two former light heavyweight champions.
As Jon Jones prepares to once again challenge for a title that he’s held, his bitter rival Daniel Cormier seems to have moved on from their rivalry and has shifted his focus to what will likely be one more title fight in the heavyweight division, if he stays true to his personal retirement timeline.