Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier recognizes a change in the fight game as some top fighters are seeking out “money fights” over title opportunities.
As a light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, Cormier’s biggest paydays were his title fights against Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic, but understands that championship fights may not be the best option for some fighters today, especially with former champ-champ Conor McGregor around.
McGregor, whose fights consistently break pay-per-view records, has become the desirable matchup over title shots for some because of the massive earning potential. For example, former featherweight champion Max Holloway recently mentioned the possibility of a rematch with McGregor as an alternative to a third title fight against current 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski.
“What happened to the title being the most important thing?” Cormier pondered in a recent video posted to his YouTube channel. “What happened to becoming the champion? For a guy like me, I loved that belt being strapped around my waist. I could not have imagined anything different.
“I love the money that came with it, obviously. Made a lot of money doing it, but I’m not sure if I’m in a position of Dustin Poirier, in the position of Max Holloway, I don’t know what my decision would be, and it’s hard for me to blame them when you look at the difference in the numbers that a fight with McGregor brings as opposed to a fight with other people.”
Poirier, a former interim lightweight champion, made big money facing McGregor three times and is on the verge of challenging for the title against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269. Fighting for the belt is important to Poirier, but he also passed up a title opportunity to complete the trilogy against McGregor.
While Cormier understands making money is important and these decisions aren’t easy to make, he believes the money and a world title are ultimately connected.
“For a long time all the champions were the money fights, they had the belts,” Cormier said. “Now the landscape is changing. The sports world is changing and I think fighters are starting to change with it. But I do believe it all comes back around to that championship.
“It ultimately goes right back to that 13 pounds of gold and you have to hope that in that money fight it elevates you to the point that you become the man at the top of the marquee that moves that needle.”
Photos: Daniel Cormier through the years
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