UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier’s dream fight – and payday – apparently isn’t going to happen. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported late Tuesday night that former heavyweight champion and current WWE star Brock Lesnar isn’t interested in returning to the Octagon.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN, “He told me he’s done, he’s retired. We’re going to move in another direction with Cormier.”
That direction is August 17 in Anaheim, Calif., where the promotion is finalizing a rematch between Cormier and Stipe Miocic for the UFC 241 main event. Cormier defeated Miocic by first-round knockout in the UFC 226 headliner in July of 2018. The deal isn’t official yet, but both Cormier and Miocic confirmed to ESPN that they’ve reached a verbal agreement.
After Cormier’s win over Miocic, Lesnar famously entered the Octagon and shoved Cormier. Lots of trash talk ensued and from there, White insisted that Lesnar would get an immediate title shot against Cormier once he went through the USADA testing program to become eligible. White’s stance was that Cormier deserved a “money fight” before he retired based on all the great things he’d done for the organization.
Cormier spent 2018 saying he was going to retire on his 40th birthday, which fell on March 20. However, an injury prompted him to push his retirement date back.
Lesnar has reportedly passed up to nine drug tests from USADA in the past year. TMZ Sports reported this morning that USADA confirmed that Lesnar was tested between April 1 and April 18, but the organization wouldn’t reveal those results.
Cormier (22-1-1 MMA, 11-1-1 UFC) has never lost a heavyweight fight, winning the Strikeforce Grand Prix back in 2011 and 2012 with victories over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Josh Barnett when they were in their prime. “DC” also owns wins over former two-time UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir and long-time contender Roy “Big Country” Nelson.
The 36-year-old Miocic (18-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) is the only UFC heavyweight champ who has successfully defended the belt three times. He won the strap at UFC 198 with a first-round KO victory over Fabricio Werdum down in Brazil. Miocic defended his title with first-round KO wins over Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 and vs. Junio did Santos at UFC 211.
Miocic set the record for title defenses with a unanimous-decisions triumph over Francis Ngannou at UFC 220. He hasn’t fought since his loss to Cormier, waiting to see if the Lesnar fight ever materialized.
Cormier did defend his heavyweight belt once, submitting Derrick Lewis with a second-round rear-naked choke in the UFC 230 headliner on Nov. 3 of 2018. He had back surgery afterward and has only recently started training again. BetOnline opened Cormier as a -150 favorite early this morning, leaving Miocic as the +130 underdog.