One thing else the trio had in widespread was that their farewell performances happened in entrance of hordes of followers who had the chance to pay tribute to those terrific abilities.
Beforehand, the Louisiana native was a two-time US Olympian and captain of the 2008 Olympic wrestling group. Within the UFC, he grew to become the primary athlete to efficiently defend titles in two completely different weight courses. Certainly, Cormier’s 22-2-1 (1 no-contest) document at present locations him sixth within the pound-for-pound listing, whereas he’s additionally the No.1-ranked heavyweight.
Not unhealthy for a man who’s greater than 15 years older than a few of his opponents.
As an alternative of basking within the cheers of hundreds of supporters, Saturday’s deciding bout of a trilogy in opposition to fellow heavyweight Stipe Miocic at UFC 252 — Cormier triumphed of their first battle in the summertime of 2018, earlier than Miocic gained revenge a yr later — will happen with subsequent to no ambiance, behind closed doorways at Apex in Las Vegas — the UFC’s bespoke area that has staged fights throughout lockdown.
Cormier freely admits he has given appreciable thought to how his last battle was going to pan out, however by no means noticed this coming. “I’ll have performed out a thousand situations,” he defined to CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.
“This was not one among them, being within the midst of a pandemic, with no followers, combating within the UFC Apex in a 25-foot cage. That was the one factor I might have by no means imagined.”
“I won’t be able to bask within the adulation from the followers. And that is OK, as a result of I’ve had that for 24 fights,” he added, the phrases pouring out from a person who has typically worn his coronary heart on his sleeve.
“I have been capable of compete in entrance of individuals, this time I am going do it with my military, with the troopers that I will struggle with, my coaches and we go and seize one other championship.”
When pressed on what he’ll miss about competing, Cormier highlighted the “power” of the group.
“Whenever you stroll via the curtain and there are 24,000 folks within the area simply yelling, screaming and going loopy, that power is one thing that you’ll by no means be capable to recreate it doesn’t matter what you do with the remainder of your life.”
A reflective Cormier acknowledged that “all people’s time involves an finish, and I do not suppose you ever meet an expert athlete that really desires to stroll away, however it’s important to perceive that there is a time for every thing … it is bittersweet, however I believe if you begin considering unfavorable is if you develop into overwhelmed with unhappiness.”
Regardless of that lack of power come Saturday evening, the extremely anticipated third bout in opposition to Miocic however places the heavyweight title and legacy on the road, with the competition arguably set to reply the query of who the best UFC heavyweight of all time is.
And Cormier would love nothing greater than to name it a day with the phrases ‘two-time UFC heavyweight champion’ ringing in his, and the world’s, ears.
“I remorse not being extra ready for the battle, for the lengthy battle,” Cormier stated concerning the fourth-round loss to Miocic through TKO.
“I remorse not retaining my fingers up and combating good. I remorse going away from the sport plan that my coaches set in entrance of me … I believe you discover the reality in understanding that they did that. Him and his group did that, they received the battle.
“They made the adjustment that received him the victory, and I believe if you acknowledge that and perceive that, then you definately begin to really feel higher about every thing, however … I used to be profitable the battle, and it offers me confidence going into the third one.”
The longer term
As soon as the mud has settled on UFC 252, and Cormier has hung up his gloves, he is not going to waste any time in starting the following chapter of his life. Alternative will proceed to knock on his commentating work, however Cormier and his group are trying outdoors the Octagon.
As he put it: “That is in all probability why retirement’s not so scary to me, as a result of I perceive and know what’s ready for me subsequent, and I consider that is going to be a implausible profession.”
When requested what’s it that makes folks excited to work with him, Cormier believed it was, merely, his persona.
“I simply consider that individuals are drawn to me as a result of I’m who I’m, proper?” Cormier responded. “I attempt to be good to folks, I attempt to deal with folks honest.
“I simply type of be who I’m, and after I begin to discuss to them and so they really feel a connection to me. After which after I get an opportunity to work with somebody, I work exhausting in every thing that I do.”
Cormier has beforehand stated that through the 1980’s, he wrote letters to the likes of Michael Jordan and Walter Payton, who he would observe on TV being larger-than-life characters.
Whereas they had been afforded the luxurious of leaving the stage surrounded by their devoted followers — like Elway, Bryant and Beckham — Cormier’s exit shall be related to the sound of (close to) silence.
Nevertheless, in the future quickly, he will certainly open his fan mail and see how he continues to encourage the following era of wrestlers and fighters. Maybe that would be the solely adulation he actually wants.