ABU DHABI – Daniel Cormier didn’t get far into his retirement before he realized his words would continue causing fighters to challenge him to get back into the octagon.
The former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion retired after losing a unanimous decision to current heavyweight titleholder Stipe Miocic at UFC 252, and it took him all of one pay-per-view event to have another headliner call him out.
Cormier remains one of the highest-profile commentators in the sport, and new UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz wasn’t happy when Cormier called him “slow.” Blachowicz, who beat Dominick Reyes to win the vacant belt at UFC 253, challenged DC to a fight before cooler heads prevailed.
On Tuesday, Cormier, who is in Abu Dhabi for “Fight Island” announcing duties, spoke with the media, and he said that while he understands why fighters have the impulse to challenge him, blunt critiques are part of his job. He’s not getting back into the cage just because someone doesn’t like what he says.
“It’s crazy because if I say something, then he’s going to attack me,” Cormier said. “I’m an easy target here lately all of a sudden. I retired, and everyone takes shots at me. I said something where I praised Jan Blachowicz for his title-winning victory. I thought he looked fantastic. But I also speak the truth, and I sometimes see things, and I speak on those things, and he didn’t quite like them. So then he tells me to go fight him. I’m 41 years old, man. I just got out of the game, and he’s trying to pull me back in.”
While Cormier won’t back off his critique of Blachowicz, he also believes there’s an inspirational message in the Polish champ’s story, which should resonate with many fighters on the UFC roster: Blachowicz nearly washed out of the company early in his tenure but turned things around and became champion. That’s something any competitor who hasn’t quite seen things go their way can learn from.
“I think he’s a good fighter, and I think he’s very talented. And what’s done is inspiring. It should inspire a whole different crop of fighters to let them know that the top is not out of reach,” Cormier said. “We’ve seen Jan Blachowicz lose. We’ve seen him lose at light heavyweight. We’ve seen him lose at middleweight. And he continued to believe in himself and his team, and now he’s the UFC light heavyweight champion.”
Cormier also believes the circumstances under which Blachowicz became champion should not detract from his status. Yes, the belt went up for grabs when longtime champion Jon Jones vacated the title, but with Jones no longer in the division, the winner of the Reyes-Blachowicz fight became the best at 205 pounds, no strings attached.
“There’s no asterisk,” Cormier said of Blachowicz’s reign. “Jon Jones left the division, and this guy won the title, and he deserves all the respect in the world. I’m interested to see what happens, and I’m excited to see what happens with this division because for a decade, Jones and I were the only two people to touch that belt. Let’s see if this thing starts switching hands like a hot potato or if someone can hold on to it.
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