“I want to fight,” Cormier (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) today told MMAjunkie. “Listen, I’m 35 (years old) this month. I’m not going to sit on the shelf at this point. I feel great at this weight. I need a fight.”
Only very recently did Cormier step out of the octagon. In his first bout at light heavyweight, he quickly dispatched Patrick Cummins at this past month’s UFC 170 event. But the Olympic wrestler and former heavyweight is anxious to keep his momentum.
“I don’t see the point in sitting out for, I mean, this is going to be a long time,” Cormier said. “If I was going to sit there and wait, I could potentially be 36 years old by the time I fight. Why would I waste a whole year of my career? I don’t have that luxury.”
As for whom Cormier sees in his immediate future, the names are varied, but within the division’s top 10: the winner of Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson, the winner of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson, Ryan Bader or Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
At the same time, Cormier said he’ll face whomever the UFC puts in front of him, as did the fighter who recently delayed his dream of competing for and winning a title: Alexander Gustafsson.
“Gustafsson didn’t get his rematch (with Jones), he could have just waited, but instead, he fought,” Cormier said. “He’s fighting who they put in front of him, and I think that’s the situation that I’m going to be faced with.”
This past Saturday, while UFC Fight Pass 37 streamed on the promotion’s online network, UFC Fight Pass, Cormier watched the Swedish fighter TKO Jimi Manuwa on a wifi-enabled laptop while his girlfriend shopped at an outlet mall in Gilroy, Calif. With the finish, he saw his chance for an immediate shot at the belt disappear.
Beforehand, Cormier said his management firm relayed word from the UFC that he would be next in line if Gustafsson was unsuccessful. So he had rooted for Manuwa to win, or that the promotion would see “anything that made them question whether or not [Gustafsson] could fight for the belt again.”
Instead, Gustafsson pounded out Manuwa in dominant fashion and then called out Jones for a rematch of their UFC 165 bout in which he pushed the champ to his limit.
“I was just being hopeful,” Cormier said. “Any competitor with any desire to be the best would be hopeful in that situation. I had nothing against Alexander, but I knew he was a roadblock in my journey to become champion. He’s got so much momentum right now. That’s why he’s rightfully fighting for a title.”
Gustafsson is now expected to meet the winner of Jones vs. Teixeira, which headlines UFC 172 on April 26 at Maryland’s Baltimore Arena.
With Gustafsson passing a short gauntlet on the way to a rematch, Cormier is ready to clear any obstacles in his path.
“If the UFC said, ‘Jon Jones is hurt, so fight Alexander Gustafsson,’ I’d say OK,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who these guys are. They’re not in my gym every day. They’re not Cain Velasquez, Kyle Kingsbury, Luke Rockhold, the guys that I train with every day. It doesn’t matter who they are. They can all come in the octagon and fight me.”
His chief obstacle, as it currently stands, is Jones, who recently dismissed Cormier as an immediate title prospect because his recent win was against an unproven talent. Although Cormier hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the champ, he said he agrees with Jones’ opinion and noted that he expressed the same prior to his win over Cummins, who replaced the injured ex-champ Rashad Evans.
“[Jones] is entitled to his opinion,” Cormier said. “He feels there’s work to be done, which if you ask the 10 top light heavyweights, they’d probably say the same thing: ‘Daniel needs to win another fight.’ That’s all he really said.
“Do I believe Jon Jones is afraid of me or Alexander Gustafsson? Not for a second. He’s defended that belt six times. Does he understand that right now, he’s going into the toughest three-fight stretch of his career? Probably, yes. I do believe he understands that.”