Daniel Cormier: Retiring on top after UFC 252 in same ‘sphere’ of all-time sports exits

LAS VEGAS – Daniel Cormier believes he has the opportunity to do something Saturday at UFC 252 that will resonate beyond MMA in the sports history books.

When Cormier (22-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) challenges Stipe Miocic (19-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) for the heavyweight championship in the pay-per-view headliner at UFC Apex, he will enter the octagon for the final time. DC has won titles in two UFC weight classes, set records across multiple divisions and competed in some of the most high-profile fights in MMA history during his famed career.

At UFC 252, though, he looks to tie it all together with a final epic moment. He said he’s retiring – no ifs, ands or buts – and doing so with the UFC belt around his waist, at age 41, after beating his biggest rival in a rubber match, would hit the sweet spot.

Cormier said riding off into the sunset under these conditions would set a new bar for MMA retirements while putting him in the conversation with some of the most memorable exits in all of sports – in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning.

“In mixed martial arts, yes – but then it can put you right alongside the greatest sports athletes of all time,” Cormier told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Thursday at the UFC 252 pre-fight news conference. “Michael Jordan won with the Bulls when they beat the Jazz. Unfortunately he came back; I won’t come back. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in his last season. It would put me in that type of sphere with the greatest athletes that have ever competed across any sport. So, when I win on Saturday, I will retire in that way.”

Cormier is extremely confident in getting the victory, but he’s lost to Miocic once before and, despite claims of making the necessary adjustments to find the win, understands nothing is guaranteed. If things don’t go Cormier’s way, though, he feels equipped to live his life peaceful and move on, as he did his rivalry with Jon Jones.

“I’m a guy with a big ego, and that would suck,” Cormier said. “I’ve got to be honest. To think there would be two guys in my career that were just better than me, and I had multiple chances to beat them, and I didn’t get it done … Yeah, it would suck.”

One thing that won’t happen, though, is Cormier pushing his retirement back (again) regardless of the outcome. He’s positioned himself for a fairy tale moment, and he’s pushing his chips all in one last time.

“Most guys in my position, when they’re talking about being done, they’re on the prelims somewhere, or there for some young guy to beat and elevate themselves off their name,” Cormier said. “That’s not me. I’m fighting to be the best in the world. So Saturday when I win, I’m the best in the world, but you’ve got to be comfortable walking away as the best in the world, or eventually you’re going to end up on the prelims for somebody to beat you and build off your name. It’s just the way the game works.”

UFC 252 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.

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Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/08/daniel-cormier-all-time-sports-retirement-moments-michael-jordan-peyton-manning-ufc-252/

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