Daniel Cormier Vacates Light Heavyweight Title Prior to UFC 232
The UFC’s light heavyweight is temporarily without a top man. The now-former champion Daniel Cormier revealed he has decided to give up the strap.
Cormier was set to be stripped of the 205-pound title once the main event of UFC 232 between his fierce rival Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson commenced.
The stripping would have been despite the fact that Cormier defended the championship against Volkan Oezdemir in 2018.
The AKA fighter defeated Oezdemir by TKO in the second round of their contest. This marks the end of Cormier’s second run as the light heavyweight champion. Jones previously defeated Cormier for a second time at UFC 214 but the victory was overturned.
Following UFC 214 in July 2016, Jones had been under suspension after testing positive for turniabol. Before this, Jones had tested positive for clomiphene and letrozole and also violated the UFC’s athlete code of conduct in separate incidents.
Cormier finished the now-retired Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to win the strap at 2015’s UFC 187 to win the championship (after Jones was originally stripped for the code of conduct violation).
Cormier then won a split decision against Gustafsson months later, a non-title bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 200 in July 2016, and retired Johnson after submitting him at UFC 210 in 2017. More trouble with Jones and the victory over Oezdemir followed.
After this, Cormier returned to heavyweight where he captured the championship from Stipe Miocic to become just the second simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history after Conor McGregor.
Cormier most recently defended the heavyweight championship at UFC 230 in November, submitting Derrick Lewis by way of a rear-naked choke.
The Louisiana native said of his decision:
"Today I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title. I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I’ve defended with my all for three and a half years. Being stripped of a title suggests you’ve done something wrong, and I haven’t.
I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped. I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it."