By all accounts that matter—meaning the fight’s scorecards—Daniel Cormier had been better than his opponent, Stipe Miocic, through three rounds in the main event of UFC 241. Entering the fourth of the UFC heavyweight title bout, each judge had things scored at 2-1 in Cormier’s favor.
But while the numbers were on his side, momentum certainly was not. After landing a strong takedown on Miocic in the first, and connecting on some solid blows in the second, Cormier quickly had the tables turned on him as his opponent was able to retaliate with his own flurry of punches in the third. Soon after the fourth round began, it became clear that Cormier was just incapable of blocking any left hooks to his body. This was an opportunity that Miocic pounced on. With each shot to the gut adding up, and Cormier hardly retaliating, Miocic was able to end things once he landed a left hook to his opponent’s body, followed that with a couple punches to the face that staggered the soon-to-be-ex-champion towards the cage. The referee called the fight once he saw Miocic’s barrage force Cormier to sink down to the mat.
Miocic deserves all the credit in the world for being able to methodically exploit a notable weakness in his opponent so that he could regain the heavyweight title. The guy is known as one of the greatest fighters of all time in his division for a reason. Before falling to Cormier in July 2018—the catalyst for this rematch—he held the record for consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses with three. He’s good as hell.
At the same time, however, Cormier did his fair share to lose the match. In between rounds, his corner was strongly encouraging him to wrestle more instead of trying to go for the knockout shot. As was seen in the fight, these instructions were clearly ignored—Cormier did not attempt a takedown in the third or fourth—and he told reporters after the match that that was his biggest regret.
“They were begging me to wrestle, and that’s probably the most disappointing is I didn’t do what I was training to do, and I feel like I let my coaches down,” Cormier said Saturday night after being knocked.
“I think when you start finding success and landing things, you just kind of fall in love with it,” Cormier said. “It feels like the (Alexander) Gustafsson fight all over again, when I wrestled a lot in the first round, and the last four rounds I just didn’t.
“They were begging me to do it then, but tonight I actually paid the ultimate price for not listening to my coaches. Usually, I’m pretty good at doing that.
“I was hitting him, and I could see him getting marked up, and I think you fall in love with the visuals of a guy’s face getting marked up.”
It was a decision that not only cost him his belt, but also catapulted his career into that portion where the question of retirement is going to come up in almost every interview. Now that he’s 40, it should be something to take into serious consideration if he’s offered to do anything but a rubber match with Miocic, or, hell, even another fight with Jon Jones. When the subject of retirement came up on Saturday, Cormier said he didn’t want to think about making any emotionally-based decisions without discussing with his family first.
Of course, another person not too keen about the prospect of Cormier in the near future was Jon Jones, who did a little shit-talking on Twitter.
If Cormier does not want to be “that guy” who makes an emotionally charged decision to retire, maybe he’ll find it more appealing to make an emotionally charged decision to fight Jones one last time.