Daniel Cormier has decided to walk away from the UFC light heavyweight title, rather than be stripped of the championship ahead of tomorrow’s UFC 232.
The UFC’s light heavyweight championship is vacant. Until tomorrow, anyway. Ahead of UFC 232, which goes down in just over twenty-four hours, double champ Daniel Cormier has decided to vacate one of his titles. In doing so, he relinquishes the belt he held for years and defended against the likes of Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. To date, only Jon Jones holds a win over D.C., prior to D.C. becoming champ.
And that’s exactly who will be fighting for his title next. Jones takes on Gustafsson in the UFC 232 main event. It’s a rematch of their UFC 165 battle years ago. A fight the UFC opted to make for the title despite Cormier being an active champion. Cormier, meanwhile, will retain his heavyweight title. In a statement to ESPN, the esteemed wrestler wrote:
“Today I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title.
“I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I’ve defended with my all for three and a half years. Being stripped of a title suggests you’ve done something wrong, and I haven’t.
“I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped. I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it.”
Cormier (22-1, 1NC) is expected to fight once more before a self-imposed retirement date in March, coinciding with his 40th birthday. The most likely candidate for that fight remains Brock Lesnar. He also won Cageside’s Fighter of the Year award for 2018, and was named Fighter of the Year by numerous other media outlets.