Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier says he “fumbled” his 2019 rematch with Stipe Miocic.
Cormier and Miocic first met in 2018, when Cormier, then the light heavyweight champion, challenged Miocic for the heavyweight strap. In a historic feat, Cormier won this fight by first-round knockout.
A little over one year later, the pair met again, as Miocic looked to reclaim the heavyweight title. While Cormier started strong in that rematch, Miocic ultimately turned the tide and won by fourth-round TKO.
Speaking on ESPN on Monday, Cormier admitted that he “fumbled” in that second fight with Miocic.
“I think it’s more pronounced because I want to win so badly and I feel like I just fumbled so bad,” Cormier said on ESPN (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I fumbled really bad last time. I fumbled in a lot of ways. I was so distracted with everything going on in my life and I was so focused on coaching and all these other things that I kind of just fumbled. I fumbled bad and I wasn’t prepared as I needed to and I got tired. Like, I got tired. I can admit it. I got tired. He hit me with those shots in the end, he hurt me to the body and he hurt me to the head and I didn’t react because my body couldn’t react because I was so tired, and I will not allow that to happen again. If he ever finds a way to hurt me, I need to fight back like I did in every other instance in my entire life. I didn’t do that last time and it sits with me every single day.
“That’s why everybody is like, ‘Man, you’ve always got people around you.’ Because it sucks to be around my thoughts,” Cormier added. “When I’m just stuck with my thoughts a lot of time, I start thinking about the things that I didn’t do that got me beat last time.”
Daniel Cormier continued, explaining the role that overconfidence and complacency played in his 2019 rematch with Miocic.
“I think that’s what happened to me,” Cormier said. “I was very comfortable because I felt like I was better—and I still do believe I’m better—but that was even almost like reaffirmed after the first round because I landed almost everything I threw. Even after the fight, I think I landed like 70 percent of my strikes. I barely ever missed so it was just a bad combination that got me beat. So I think about it constantly. It’s bad.”
Ahead of his tie-breaking trilogy fight with Miocic, which is scheduled for UFC 252 on August 15, Cormier is determined to fight at his full potential. That way, even if he loses, he can take pride in having been the best version of himself.
“I just want to do what I’m supposed to do,” Cormier said. “If that means win, that means win. But I want to compete to my ability. That wasn’t the best of my ability. I know that because of who he is, there’s a chance he could beat me. You’ve got to be stupid to think that a guy who has done all he has done can’t win a fight. But if he does, I want him to beat the best version of me.
“If he wins that fight, I want him to do it by beating the best version of Daniel Cormier, not a guy who isn’t even a year out of back surgery and not in the best physical condition, isn’t able to train himself to be who he is. That’s all I want. I want to be able to go out there and compete to my potential, and with that said, I feel my potential is me winning the fight.”
How do you think Daniel Cormier will perform in his trilogy fight with Stipe Miocic?