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Daniel Cormier on Stipe Miocic heavyweight title fight at UFC 226: ‘I have to do it’

Despite earlier comments about not wanting to return to the heavyweight division, Daniel Cormier couldn’t pass up the offer to fight fellow UFC champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July.

MMA: UFC 220- Cormier vs Oezedmir Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Cormier couldn’t pass up a chance to become a two-division UFC champion.

Before his UFC 220 title defense against Volkan Oezdemir, which resulted in a second-round TKO win, the light heavyweight titleholder was not interested in returning to the heavyweight division, where he started his career.

Cormier said all the top heavyweights today are athletic and still big — duplicates of Cain Velasquez. The heavyweight division has evolved since he was a top fighter in the weight class, he said. At 5’9, Cormier wasn’t interested in competing against fighters like heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, who both tower over the 205-pound champ.

But things can change in the blink of an eye. After Cormier stopped Oezdemir last weekend in Boston, UFC president Dana White immediately started talking about pairing up Cormier and Miocic for the heavyweight title.

Even after the Oezdemir win, Cormier wasn’t so into the idea of fighting Miocic, because the return of longtime training partner Velasquez was looming. But after having a long talk with the former heavyweight champion, Cormier finally agreed to the Miocic bout. The two pound-for-pound greats will meet at UFC 226 on July 7 in Las Vegas.

“I’m excited,” Cormier told TMZ Sports. “It’s a big deal. Great opportunity to fight the greatest heavyweight champion of all time and try to cement myself as one of the best fighters to ever do it.

“I just want to fight. Plus, it’s such a big opportunity. It’s one of those that you can’t really pass up whenever it’s offered to you. Once I talked to Cain Velasquez and he gave me the go-ahead and well wishes, I was like, ‘You know what? I have to do it.’

“I’ve never been afraid of a fight. That’s one thing: I’ve never been afraid of a fight. It was always about whether or not it worked in terms of what I was trying to do and what my teammate had going. Cain said to me he doesn’t think that he would get a title shot right away — ‘So let’s get you prepared to try to be the heavyweight champ of the world.’”

Cormier hinted that he may be earning more money than usual for the summer super-fight.

“[White] is a pretty persistent guy, and when he wants something done, he has ways of getting them done,” Cormier said. “And let’s just say I enjoy his ways.”