Daniel Cormier’s brand new reign as the UFC heavyweight champion began with strong links to the rumor that he would face Brock Lesnar for his first title defense. The obvious evidence, of course, was the already infamous altercation between the new heavyweight champion and the former heavyweight champ at end of UFC 226.
The reactions to this little promo was quite mixed. Some fans loved it. They thought it was the perfect setup for the fight to go down in the near future. Others hated it. They thought it was a page straight out of the WWE playbook. Regardless of the reactions, it did not fail to accomplish what was intended — it grabbed the attention of the community and got everyone talking.
However, let’s discuss the other side of the problem: Stipe Miocic, the man Cormier dethroned in his UFC 226 bout.
Now, if we’re talking about the pure business side of things, a fight between Cormier and Lesnar is the way to go for the UFC. Lesnar has always been a big draw and surely will still be one when he comes back after his remaining suspension. Cormier has laid it out that he will retire next March, which makes the Lesnar fight that much more intriguing for the company.
Let’s forget all that for now, though. We have a more than good enough second option. To be fair, it wouldn’t even be right to call Miocic the second option. He’s earned his place in the history books and the current heavyweight rankings. After he made one mistake and got caught, we’re just going to completely forget about him because Lesnar is here? That’s ridiculous.
What makes this sport beautiful and great is that we get to see the best against the best. In the UFC’s decision to put Lesnar, who hasn’t competed in over two years and still has six months left on his USADA suspension, ahead of one of the most honorable champions of all time, the organization takes the sport away from the very foundation of what it was built on.
We must also consider the competitiveness in the match-up of Cormier and Lesnar compared to Cormier and Miocic. Does Lesnar, after being out of the Octagon for so long and losing two of his three most recent fights, really stand a better chance to beat Cormier, who’s so good on so many different levels, than Miocic? Miocic is far younger than Lesnar, still in his prime, and is motivated to get his belt back. Who has been a better ambassador for the sport than Miocic since he won the belt? No one comes close, except perhaps Cormier.
With Conor McGregor’s legal situation now resolved and his potential fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov looming in the near future, is this clear effort at a cash grab by the UFC in pitting Cormier against Lesnar necessary? Also, if Lesnar, 41, somehow manages to become the champion, the heavyweight division becomes a mess, just like the lightweight division was until this past April.
Naturally, the UFC wants to do whatever generates the most interest. However, an exception is most definitely in order here, because of the legacy the former champ from Ohio has built for himself over his title reign. Cormier wants the biggest fights possible, especially now that he’s approaching retirement, and nobody deserves it more than him. Yet, nobody deserves the fight more than Miocic. If Lesnar does manage to get the shot over Miocic, maybe the sport really has changed and moved away from its foundation.