UFC: Daniel Cormier Hangs Up The Gloves: Where Does DC Stand Among MMA’s All-Time Greats?

By Adam Martin

Former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier officially announced his retirement from MMA this week on his ESPN podcast with Ariel Helwani. The 41-year-old Cormier cited Father Time as the reason for him hanging up his gloves. Although he nearly defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 252 to reclaim the heavyweight belt, his loss via decision in the main event was enough to convince him that he was done. At this point in his life, Cormier feels like it is the right time to step away from the sport for good.

And now that DC is retired, it’s time to look at where he stacks up among the all-time greats in the sport. Despite entering MMA at age 30, Cormier made the most of his thirties, as he put together a decade to remember. He started off his career fighting in Strikeforce and for a few regional promotions in the United States and Australia, picking up wins over quality veterans like Soa Palelei and Tony Johnson before picking up a victory over Jeff Monson, which earned him a spot as the alternate in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

After Alistair Overeem was signed to the UFC to fight Brock Lesnar, Cormier took Overeem’s spot in the Grand Prix semifinals and was matched up against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, who was coming off of a massive upset win over Fedor Emelianenko. Despite entering the tournament as a hefty underdog, Cormier shocked the world when he defeated Silva via first-round KO. The win over Silva earned DC a spot in the finals against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett, and Cormier was able to win the tournament and become the Grand Prix champion with a dominant win over Barnett.

After picking up another win at the final Strikeforce card, Cormier was then brought over to the UFC. In his first fight in the Octagon, he fought another former UFC Heavyweight Champion in Frank Mir and was able to grind out a decision over him. In his next UFC bout, he defeated Roy Nelson, then decided to move down to light heavyweight. Cormier defeated Patrick Cummins in his first light heavyweight bout, and then defeated the legend Dan Henderson to earn a title shot against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.

That would lead to DC and Jones having one of the greatest rivalries in UFC light heavyweight history. DC lost the first fight to Jones at UFC 182 by decision, but he was able to win the vacant title over Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 after Jones had his belt stripped. Cormier then defended his belt against Alexander Gustafsson before defeating Anderson Silva in a non-title fight. He then defended his championship once again against Johnson in a rematch, and then the UFC matched him up with Jones again.

In the rematch against Jones at UFC 214, Cormier suffered the second loss of his pro career when he was knocked out by a Jones head kick and punches to lose his belt. However, Jones tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs after that fight, and Cormier was reinstated as the champion. He then defended his belt at 205 lbs one more time against Volkan Oezdemir before deciding that he wanted to try and make history by moving up to heavyweight and pursuing the rare UFC double championship.

At UFC 226 in July 2018, Cormier knocked out UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic in the first round to become a two-division champion in the UFC. It was an amazing moment that cemented DC’s place as one of the greatest to ever do it. DC then defended the heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis before fighting Miocic in the rematch the next summer at UFC 241. He lost that fight, and then he lost the trilogy fight at UFC 252, which ended up being the last time we saw Cormier step into the Octagon.

It truly is incredible to see what Cormier accomplished as a late bloomer into mixed martial arts in his thirties. Just look at the resume of wins: Miocic, Silva, Henderson, Lewis, Johnson (twice), Gustafsson, Oezdemir, Barnett, Mir, and Nelson. And he beat them all after he turned 30. That is just an incredible, eye-popping resume. The only thing missing is a win over Jones. Had DC been able to topple Jones, then we would likely be talking about him as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

DC isn’t the best MMA fighter of all time, but I definitely think he is Top 10, and you could even make the argument that he is Top 5. What he accomplished after turning 30 is just amazing. It truly is incredible how much he was able to accomplish in just a decade in the sport. UFC heavyweight champion, UFC light heavyweight champion, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion. It’s just astonishing.

Daniel Cormier is quite simply one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. It has been a pleasure to watch him perform for the last decade, and though he wasn’t able to defeat Stipe Miocic and end his career on a happy note, he has nothing to hang his head about. He’s a legend, and the sport is better with because of his contribution to it. Thank you, DC for an amazing career. Happy retirement!

UFC 252

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier (UFC Heavyweight Championship): Stipe Miocic def. Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).

UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 (formerly UFC 252) was due to take place July 11, 2020 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus, the event was rescheduled/relocated to August 15, 2020 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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