As the UFC heavyweight division is on hold to see what happens next between champion Stipe Miocic and former champion Daniel Cormier. Both guys have a win over each other as the belt has changed hands between the two over the last two years, and while a trilogy is wanted by both, there has been no word on whether or not it will happen.
Miocic won back the heavyweight title with a comeback victory over Cormier at UFC 241 but there may have been some issues for ‘D.C.’ leading up to the fight. Javier Mendez, the head coach of Cormier and many others including lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at American Kickboxing Academy, recently spoke to Danny Segura of MMA Junkie and admitted that Cormier was not 100% healthy heading into the rematch last summer.
“But the bottom line is I like to tell the truth. It does come out as an excuse, but Daniel just did have surgery not too long after that fight. He was not 100 percent going in. He was good. He was ready for the title bout, don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t the same as he was the first fight, straight up. And I know it doesn’t sound good to say that, but I’ll take the heat. It’s fine, blast away, I’m fine with that. It’s the truth, though.” (via MMA Junkie)
Having split the first two fights between themselves, Mendez says he and Cormier are ready for the trilogy fight against Miocic and if it doesn’t happen then Cormier will likely retire.
“He’s set on Stipe. And if he doesn’t get Stipe, then that will probably be it. So that would be in the best interest of the UFC, if they want to save one marquee fight, which is a great trilogy, one of the best trilogies they’ve had.”
Although no coach wants to see their fighter lose and he admitted that Cormier was not fully healthy, Mendez did credit Miocic for his performace in the rematch.
“Stipe won fair and square. He hit beautiful body shots. He recovered. He was losing all the rounds, he recovered fantastic. I mean, hey, if I’ve got to say anything, man, props to him.”
Mendez expects Cormier to be at full strength if a trilogy fight is made between him and Miocic, and although it makes most sense in the heavyweight division, the UFC has not yet made any plans for the title. Miocic himself has been open about currently recovering from an eye injury but has been open to a trilogy fight as well.