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Daniel Cormier open to 205-pound title defense vs. Shogun Rua before Brock Lesnar fight

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Daniel Cormier wants only big fights until stepping away from MMA early next year, and apparently former light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua fits the bill.

UFC 226: Miocic v Cormier Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Daniel Cormier may defend his light heavyweight title before squaring off with Brock Lesnar.

The two-division UFC champion, who knocked out Stipe Miocic to capture the heavyweight belt at UFC 226 last weekend, told Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday that he would be open to a 205-pound bout against Mauricio Rua first.

Because of his one-year USADA suspension from 2016 that froze once he left the drug-testing pool, Lesnar won’t be eligible to return to the UFC until early next year. Meanwhile, Cormier wants to get a fight in before then. “DC” said after beating Miocic he only wants big fights moving forward, and facing former light heavyweight champ “Shogun” apparently fits the bill.

Rua first has to get past Anthony Smith, who he faces in the UFC Hamburg main event later this month. The Brazilian legend was expected to meet former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, but the Swiss fighter was moved to a UFC 227 bout against Alexander Gustafsson. Smith, who last knocked out former champ Rashad Evans, stepped up just last week on short notice.

Rua hasn’t fought since March 2017, when he knocked out Gian Villante. The 36-year-old is riding a three-fight winning streak, which also includes victories over Corey Anderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Cormier didn’t say exactly when he’d be willing to face Rua, but he said at the UFC 226 post-fight press conference he wants to take a little time off to spend it with his family. Cormier plans on retiring next March, when he turns 40, and as of now, it seems he’ll have two more fights before hanging his gloves up for good.

On Saturday, Cormier mentioned Jon Jones, Miocic, Lesnar, and possibly Gustafsson as future opponents. The champion made no mention of Rua until Monday.