UFC champ Daniel Cormier now targets 2018 for title defense against Volkan Oezdemir
“I’m going to fight Volkan,” Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio during a recent in-studio appearance. “I went to the doctor, and he advised me to take the rest of the year off because I started to contemplate fighting at the end of the December.
“(I’ll fight him) beginning of next year sometime.”
Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) held an informal social media poll to determine the opponent fans wanted him to fight, and Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who’s stormed into the UFC with three straight wins and two high-profile knockouts, came out ahead.
A recent report claimed the matchup was on target for UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But Cormier is pumping the brakes to allow himself more time to recover from the past 12 months of his career.
The matchup will Cormier back in the cage after a tumultous summer that saw him lose the belt to Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) via knockout, only to get it back after Jones failed a drug test for a steroid.
Jones’ case with the UFC’s anti-doping partner, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, is currently in process, with the fighter’s team trying to uncover the source of the positive. The process could take several months, and both sides are expected to move to arbitration. Jones also is appealing a fine and suspension handed down by the California State Athletic Commission, which oversaw UFC 214.
Cormier struggled with his next move when the news of Jones’ drug failure went public. Initially, he expected a rematch as the embattled champ waited for the results of a confirmation test. After the initial findings were validated, however, he shifted gears and started to look toward the future.
A second loss to Jones left Cormier an emotional wreck in the weeks following UFC 214. But the positive test and subsequent overturning of his loss also made him question whether his reaction was justified, and it left him uncertain about how he felt about Jones, who took a gentlemanly turn after their rematch.
“Obviously, we should let due process play itself out and everything,” he said. “I worry about the human factor, because he is a father, too, and has a family. But there’s a part of me that’s still pissed off. Obviously, how do you not be pissed off when something like that happens and you feel like, ‘Man, did I really get a fair shake?'”
At the same time, Cormier can’t deny what happened in July when they met at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“He won the fight,” Cormier said. “That’s me, the competitor. Fighters come up to me and say, ‘No, you didn’t (lose the belt).’ (UFC lightweight) Beneil Dariush was like, mad. He was like, ‘I’m so mad that you had to accept the belt back. That’s stupid. You never lost it if you didn’t get a fair shake.’ He’s like, ‘Why are you down on yourself?’ But everybody doesn’t look at competition like I do.
“For me, I lost the fight. I was there. July 29, he beat me. They can say whatever they want to say, but I lost. That’s just who I am.”
In the wake of Jones’ positive test, his second for a banned performance-enhancer and third for a banned substance, Cormier consulted experts who told him about the drug for which Jones was flagged. The information only left him more confused as to why a fighter with Jones’ gifts would take it – and upset they might have widened a gap between their competitive abilities.
“Talking to some of these guys, these things are so fast-acting, some of these drugs,” he said. “If that’s the case, it allows you to train longer and train harder. It sucks.
“Because at 38, I work hard. I do a lot. And it would feel good to wake up and not feel like death. Come Wednesday, I didn’t know you could be this sore. My ass is sore. When do you get sore in the butt cheek? It happens. If you feel like you have to do something like that, it’s unfortunate, because I don’t believe he needed to. I think he’s that good. But how do you say that?”
“I can’t jump off the side of the octagon like Anthony Pettis,” he later added. “I can’t do any of that stuff. I can try to take you down, and I can stand and strike with you, and I can grapple with you. I can’t do spinning back kicks and jump elbows. So to feel that you have to do something extra to beat me with what I bring to the table kind of sucks.”
Cormier also cites a number of stories released in the wake of his first fight with Jones at UFC 182 that question whether “Bones” may have doped given his abnormally low testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio, despite the fact he wasn’t flagged for an anti-doping violation.
“The T/E ratio was so jacked, it probably would have been flagged,” Cormier said. “That’s messed up. That’s something that really bugs me.”
But in the end, Cormier is resolved to move forward with his career and put the past behind him. He appreciates the fact Jones tried to turn over a new leaf in their relationship, which is why he can’t bring himself to completely condemn the now ex-champ. He is just saddened by the circumstances surrounding their second fight, and ready to turn over a new page of his own against Oezdemir.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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Publication Date: October 12, 2017, 7:30 pm
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