Daniel Cormier isn’t a stranger to taking big fights on relatively short notice. Back in 2018, Dana White showed up on ESPN to announce that DC would be defending his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis, in just three weeks time. Even with a bad back, Cormier defeated the ‘Black Beast’ to retain his belt.
But that doesn’t mean that the former champ turned broadcast booth talking head wouldn’t hesitate for just any fight the UFC offered. In a recent segment on ESPN, Cormier gave his support to former light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira’s decision to pass on a short notice fight with Magomed Ankalaev, noting that he would have done the same if the UFC had asked him to fight Stipe Miocic without a proper camp.
“I believe that, honestly, I would do the same thing if I was Glover,” Cormier explained (transcript via MMA Fighting). “It’s different. When I was fighting, they told me, as the champ, would you fight Derrick Lewis on three weeks’ notice? Knowing the matchup, I said, sure. Stipe Miocic, I would not have fought on three weeks’ notice, because it’s a different matchup. When I had to fight [Anthony] ‘Rumble’ Johnson for the vacant title, God rest his soul, sure, I’ll fight ‘Rumble’ Johnson. When they said Dan Henderson on a few weeks’ — six weeks, five weeks, whatever, I wasn’t in camp — sure, because I know the matchup.”
Beyond simple time to prepare and the difficulty of the fight, Cormier also noted that while Ankalaev has been impressive in his Octagon career, he has yet to really define himself as a high profile opponent. The Brazilian would be risking what may be his last chance at gold against someone who, to Cormier’s way of thinking, fans just aren’t very familiar with.
“I don’t disagree with Glover,” Cormier added. “If I was in the same situation, with Ankalaev, too many unknowns for a guy that isn’t necessarily known to the general public, who isn’t a guy that everyone recognizes as a top contender, because Magomed has not been in the game long enough and he has not stood across the octagon from the people that make you as recognizable as you need to be in order to be viewed in that way.
“Think about this, Sean O’Malley now has stood across the octagon from Petr Yan. Sean O’Malley already had a name built in. But now you have the visual of him in there against a former champion, doing very well. So you can sell him as a legit title contender. The biggest name we’ve seen [Ankalaev] in there with is Anthony Smith. No knock on Anthony, but it’s not like being in there with Dan Henderson and all those guys that I fought—Josh Barnett, [Antonio] ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, Frank Mir—before I ultimately got to a championship fight. You need those guys to elevate you to that point, and I don’t think Glover sees him in that light.”
Instead of fighting for gold on December 10th, Teixeira has opted to wait as former champion Jan Blachowicz takes on Ankalaev for Jiri Prochazka’s vacated title. Given the expectations that injury will keep Prochazka sidelined for the better part of 2023, it could easily be that Teixeira will once again be the top contender for the strap when the dust settles at UFC 282. Nothing is ever guaranteed, however, especially not in the UFC. Hopefully for Teixeira, this gamble pays off.