When Daniel Cormier steps into the Octagon at UFC 230 on November 3 inside Madison Square Garden, he’ll do so looking to defend his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis, but it’ll also be just a short moment of glory for him. Besides defending his heavyweight title, Cormier will be stepping inside the Octagon as both the heavyweight and light heavyweight champion of the UFC, meaning he’ll be the only fighter to ever compete as a reigning two-weight champion inside the UFC.
The accomplishment is an incredible career achievement but in the two instances in which there has been a two-weight champion, neither fighter was given the opportunity to defend both belts. So while holding two belts is great for photo opportunities and for the resume, is it really worth it in the end?
While Conor McGregor was the first fighter to achieve the champ-champ accomplishment, the UFC moved quickly to strip the featherweight belt off of him following his lightweight title win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
After winning both belts, McGregor went on to face Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in 2017 and in doing so, held up both the lightweight and featherweight divisions as they awaited the champion who never lost his belts to return to the Octagon.
Although the UFC’s most popular fighter had achieved what many thought was once impossible, the promotion had to keep their business moving and when they needed a main event for UFC 206, McGregor was stripped of the featherweight title. There’s certainly a case that can be argued that McGregor had plenty of time and opportunities to come back and defend either title, but would it truly have mattered?
In the case of Daniel Cormier, he’s doing the UFC a huge favor by headlining UFC 230, and in doing so, he’ll be stripped of the light heavyweight title and a returning Jon Jones will take on Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 for the vacant title.
Cormier, who has publicly said that he only had two fights remaining in his career before retiring, is stepping up to help the UFC who struggled to fill their main event slot at UFC 230 and is doing so against an unlikely opponent. Even following his comeback win at UFC 229, Derrick Lewis told Joe Rogan in his post-fight Octagon interview that he was not in any place to fight for a title and needed to get his conditioning in check before thinking about a title.
Yet, with momentum behind Lewis and making both fighters an offer they couldn’t refuse financially, the UFC got their main event for UFC 230. So the promotion got what they needed, but what about Daniel Cormier? A true company man and great ambassador for the sport, he will lose his light heavyweight title so his biggest career rival can come back and fight for it, and is being rushed into a main event against Lewis while not even being fully recovered from a hand injury.
When it comes to becoming a two-weight world champion, there might not be as much glory to the accomplishment as there is necessity to help out the UFC. Daniel Cormier has been open in saying he can’t really let go of his two fights with Jon Jones, but following his win to become heavyweight champion, Cormier had a post-fight encounter with former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who said he’s returning to fight for the title. Now that he’s stepped in to help the UFC, Cormier will likely have to pick between the big payday against Lesnar or trying to avenge both his losses to Jon Jones.
Adding to all of the circumstances surrounding the remaining time of Cormier’s career, as always in the fight game, there’s a possibility that he loses to Lewis at UFC 230 and would then be without either belt come the end of the year.
The UFC will always do what’s best for business and that might mean offering certain fighters the chance too become a two-weight world champion, but if title defenses mean anything to those championship fighters, maybe the chase for a second belt should be put on hold.
Becoming a simultaneous two-weight world champion is an accomplishment many dream of and only two have accomplished, but the glory of being champ-champ runs out after all the photos are taken and as soon as the UFC has needs to fill for their fight cards. So is it really worthwhile?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/17/2018.