One of the consistent mandates of fighting is for a competitor to not let their emotions get the best of them. Stay calm, stay composed, keep everything under wraps. It’s one of the reasons that pre-fight trash talk exists. An attempt to expose an opponent’s nerves. To get them angry, unhappy, maybe even scared. For Daniel Cormier, in the lead-up to his rematch with Stipe Miocic in Anaheim at UFC 241, he feels he may be seeing some cracks in the Ohioan’s emotional armor. Ones that weren’t there the first time around.
“I couldn’t give two shits about his feelings,” Cormier told the assembled press, after his open workout, during fight week. “I was watching something called Destined today, and he said, ‘I get so upset thinking about it. It just pisses me off.’ And then his wife said something to the effect of, ‘When people talk trash it just makes it worse for them.’ Well? The good thing about our job is, we get to punch each other in the face. So, I’m gonna keep talking, and it’s his job to shut me up.”
“He has changed after the loss,” Cormier continued when asked about the ways Miocic has “changed.” “I think, honestly, as an opponent, it would be tough to spend six weeks with me anyways. I’m not saying I’m pleasant to be around, especially when I’m digging at you constantly. But, I think he could deal with it before the first fight, because there was the idea that he was gonna win. But, when you lose the fight, it becomes much more difficult. So that’s why I think you see him so pissed off at me.”
If that’s Cormier’s takeaway from Stipe’s pre-fight media, however, its not one that Miocic seems to feel is grounded in reality. The Strong-Style trained former champion spoke to the media after his own workout, and made it clear that he has no idea what Cormier is talking about.
“I have no feelings toward him,” Miocic responded, when asked about Cormier’s comments. “He needs to get out of high school and turn the page, honestly. I don’t know what his deal is about my ‘feelings.’ I just said I want a rematch. The dude literally cried on national TV, but whatever.”
“No, I have no idea,” he continued. “I really don’t know if he’s trying to build himself up to get pissed off at me, make me feel like something I’m not? But, whatever.”
Miocic did say, however, that his relationship with the UFC is much improved after the rematch was announced. A professional fire fighter in his time away from the cage, Miocic hasn’t stepped back into the Octagon since losing the belt to Cormier in 2018—and had been firm in his demands that the UFC give him a rematch and a chance to regain the belt.
“I mean, yeah, definitely, 100%. I got the fight, right?” Miocic said, of his improved interactions with the UFC. “I don’t know what else to say. Listen, if it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. I don’t know what feelings I had about it. I’m a grown ass man, but I was trying to get it. He’d be doing the same damn thing. So, I don’t know what the hell he was talking about, ‘feelings.’”
“Wasn’t certain. Honestly, swear to god, I had no idea,” Miocic continued, when asked if he was certain his holdout would work. “Like I said, I’m a grown-ass man. So, if it wasn’t gonna happen, it wasn’t gonna happen. I’m not gonna sit there and be like, ‘Oh god, my feelings, you hurt my feelings.’ No, I don’t care.”
Cormier has sent his message, that he believes his opponents frustrations with the UFC – and with him – seem to be getting under Miocic’s skin. And that he would “love” for Stipe to “come in there and try to kill me.”
But, on the flip side, Miocic sounds nothing but confident of his victory—correcting reporters who ask what’s next “if he wins” to “when I win.” And as for granting DC his own immediate rematch after defeating him on Saturday, August 17th?
“I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ll see how his feelings feel.”