Daniel Cormier explains why he's fulfilling Stipe Miocic rematch promise – and will win again

Daniel Cormier got his fair share of pushback for his eagerness to fight Brock Lesnar but said all along that if the fight didn’t materialize he would run it back with Stipe Miocic.

Now it’s set to happen.

Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) took the heavyweight title from Miocic (18-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) at UFC 226 last July. Immediately after Cormier’s first-round knockout win, Lesnar entered the octagon and all signs pointed to that being the next matchup for “DC.”

But over the next several months, the Cormier vs. Lesnar matchup began to fade. Cormier defended his title against Derick Lewis at UFC 230 in November, and UFC president Dana White said Lesnar had yet to engage in negotiations. Then, earlier this month, White said Lesnar would not be making a UFC return, and the Cormier-Miocic rematch subsequently was announced.

Cormier said he would fight Miocic again if that’s how the situation played out. And although it will be hard to top a first-round knockout, the champ said he can leave no doubt he’s superior.

“The upside to beating Stipe twice, I think it’s just really hammering the point home that it was what it was supposed to be,” Cormier told reporters, including MMA Junkie, last week in Rio de Janeiro. “When the fight ends in the way that it did the first time, there’s room for people to say, ‘Did he get lucky? Did this happen?’ I think ultimately this isn’t for me. I’m doing this because he deserves a rematch. If I was like, ‘I don’t need to redo this again,’ I could’ve just gone with someone else. But I gave him my word that if Brock didn’t fight, I’d fight him. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

Cormier is set to rematch Miocic in the UFC 241 main event on Aug. 16 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Although the highlight-reel knockout from Cormier was the ultimate conclusion to the first Miocic fight, there was more to occur in the four minutes and 33 seconds of octagon time. That includes Miocic putting in some good offensive work, and Cormier landing a potentially fight-altering eye poke before a sweet setup from the clinch for the finish.

Miocic hasn’t seen action since that fight, while Cormier netted a title defense against Lewis. It will be a 13-month layoff for Miocic between fights, and while he’s certainly been training in that time, Cormier said he doesn’t see anything that can generate a different result.

“I don’t think anything’s going to be different with Miocic,” Cormier said. “I have to approach it similar, but I do expect a better Stipe. I know how hard it’ll be to beat him again, because I know how hard I prepared for the rematch with (Jon) Jones. Because I was just like him. I was in his position before, and I know how motivated I was to try to right that wrong. So I expect a tougher fight, but he’s a boxer and a wrestler. That’s exactly what he does, and I expect him to be better in his areas, but he’ll be the same fighter, just a little more aggressive.”

Cormier said the expectation for victory shouldn’t be taken as a sign that he’s overlooking Miocic. There are no thoughts of “what-if” when it comes to the Lesnar fight, because Miocic, the man with the UFC record for most heavyweight title defenses, is the opponent in front of him.

“My focus is on Stipe Miocic,” Cormier said. “When they told me it was over, the Lesnar thing was over, I had to make sure the Lesnar thing was over in my mind so I can prepare for the guy that’s actually standing across the octagon. Because if I think about, ‘Oh, I’m so sad, I didn’t get to fight Brock Lesnar,’ Stipe’s going to knock my ass out, and I don’t want Stipe to knock my ass out. So I’m focused on Stipe Miocic.”

For more on UFC 241, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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