Daniel Cormier serves as head wrestling coach at Gilroy High School in California (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champ, confirmed this week that he plans to return to the Octagon one last time for a third bout with fellow former collegiate wrestler Stipe Miocic ... then retire from mixed martial arts.
Cormier, who was a collegiate wrestling champion and 2008 U.S. Olympic men's freestyle team member prior to launching his pro MMA career, revealed his retirement plans on Ariel Helwani's MMA show on Monday.
"I'm going to fight this guy again, and my intention is to fight him in the right way," Cormier said during that program. "Hopefully that's enough to get my hand raised.
"But I'll go fight him again, win or lose, I'm not fighting again. This will be the only time I ever step foot in the Octagon again."
Cormier told Helwani that he hopes his. third fight with Miocic will happen at UFC 245 on Dec. 14 in Las Vegas.
The groundwork for Cormier-Miocic 3 started at UFC 226 in July 2018 when Cormier knocked Miocic out ... making the now 40-year-old Cormier the holder of two titles at once. A few months later, the Louisiana native then successfully defended his heavyweight and light-heavyweight titles vs. Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 last November. That win put Cormier in the record books -- and history books -- as the first fighter in UFC's 35-year history to win belts in two divisions and defend them both ... prior to giving up either. (Cormier was later forced to give up the light-heavyweight belt prior to UFC 232, where Jon Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson for that title.)
Cormier took the heavyweight title into his rematch with Miocic at UFC 241 ... but lost that match -- and belt -- in that bout last month. The Cleveland area native reclaimed the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight (265-pound) title with a technical knockout of Cormier at 4:09 of the fourth round of the bout slated for five rounds.
Both Cormier and Miocic have brought amateur wrestling backgrounds into their pro MMA careers.
Prior to launching his pro MMA career a decade ago, Cormier made his presence known on the wrestling mat, first as a three-time Louisiana high school state wrestling champion. After graduation, Cormier headed north to Colby Community College in Kansas where he was a two-time NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national champ at 197 pounds, in 1998 and 1999. Cormier then transferred to Oklahoma State University, where he was a two-time NCAA Division I championships qualifier, making it to the 184-pound finals at the 2000 NCAAs, losing to Iowa State's Cael Sanderson (now head wrestling coach at Penn State). After graduation, Cormier wrestled freestyle. Among his honors: bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships, a two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Championships, and member of the U.S. men's freestyle team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Cormier remains connected to amateur wrestling, currently serving as coach at Gilroy High School in California.
Stipe Miocic grew up in the wrestling hotbed of northeast Ohio, where he wrestled at Eastlake North High School, then for the NCAA Division I program at Cleveland State.