UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight dual-division champion Daniel Cormier is in a unique position, largely of his own making, but top 205-pound contender Ilir Latifi doesn’t care.
Cormier added the heavyweight strap to his collection when he defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July. Now, he has two belts in hand, but a short time to defend either, as he intends to retire by March 20, 2019. That is Cormier’s 40th birthday, and he insists it is the expiration date on his UFC career.
Latifi, and several others in the 205-pound division, are insisting that Cormier commit to defending the light heavyweight championship or vacate it. Cormier, however, hasn’t quite made up his mind.
As soon as he won the belt, Cormier began the build-up to a blockbuster heavyweight title fight with returning WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar, which is expected to happen in early 2019. That leaves Cormier very little time to defend the 205-pound belt, if he is going to, but he has indicated that he might.
“(Lesnar) will be the last one. He’ll be the last fight of my career,” Cormier told MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin in a recent interview. “Will he be next? I don’t know. I hope so, but I’ve still got a belt to defend at 205 [pounds] to think about.”
Latifi isn’t buying the idea that Cormier is going to fight at 205 again, instead believing that he’s just trying to milk having to belts for as long as he can.
“Honestly, I don’t think he’s going to come down any more,” Latifi told ESPN. “I think he’s playing around, seeing what money fights he can make. I understand that in a way, but something needs to happen at 205. There are guys who want that shot at a title or interim title.”
The Swede insists that the UFC needs to force Cormier’s hand.
“Either he comes down and defends against me this year, or they have to make an interim title or force him to step down from the title,” Latifi said. “It’s only fair. I think what he’s done for the sport is great, and he’s a great champion, but it’s a new time now.”