There are few more honored rituals in combat sports than the on-the-spot retirement ceremony in which a competitor leaves his or her gloves on the mat at the end of their final fight.
Daniel Cormier could’ve had such a moment on Aug. 15 at UFC 252. Win or lose, Cormier’s main event in Las Vegas against Stipe Miocic was expected to be the former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion’s final fight.
After dropping a unanimous decision to Miocic, though, Cormier declined to make a spectacle of himself in the octagon, although he later admitted in a post-fight interview that his career was done.
On Monday, Cormier explained his reasoning bending foregoing a drop of the gloves, saying that he also understood his trilogy with Miocic was a piece of history, too, one which many considered the determining factor in the argument of greatest heavyweight of all time.
By winning at UFC 252, Miocic took the last two fights from Cormier and thus the series. And Cormier told ESPN he has too much respect for Miocic to step on his big moment.
“In my mind, I lost the fight,” Cormier said. “It’s Stipe’s moment. He’s the champ. Why would I do that? Because a guy like me retires in the octagon there, and that’s what people talk about. I think in the standings of the world, there’s a difference between Stipe and I. And if I’m in there and take my gloves off, it’s almost like I’m stealing his thunder. I wasn’t going to that.”
Cormier also sees this as a matter of reciprocation. When Cormier knocked out Miocic to take the heavyweight belt and become champ-champ at UFC 226, Miocic get out of the way and let DC have the limelight.
“I went to the back to get out of there and (let him) have his moment with his team and let him celebrate,” Cormier said. “He’s done that for me, so I got out the way.”
With two weeks to reflect on the bout, there’s no bitterness on Cormier’s part. He believes the champ won fair and square.
“I thought he won the fight,” Cormier said. “He did a good job, and he deserved to get his hand raised on that night. He won the fight.”