Daniel Cormier to finally defend light-heavyweight title after 17 months

Conor McGregor was stripped of his belt after 13 months...

BY Simon Maguire 12:50 Friday 31 March 2017, 12:50 31 Mar 2017

Image: John Locher / AP/Press Association Images

Daniel Cormier will finally defend his UFC light-heavyweight title after 17 months of watching the belt sit idle.

Cormier won the title after beating Anthony Johnson by submission in January 2015 after Jon Jones was stripped due to legal issues outside of the UFC. He defended it once against Alexander Gustafsson in October of that year in an enthralling bout which the American won via split-decision.

He was due to fight Jones in the main event at UFC 200 only for the former champion to fail a drugs test in the lead up to the bout.

Former middleweight king Anderson Silva stepped in on short notice and faced off against the Cormier in a non-title fight and the bout was largely viewed as a dud. Silva was only a few weeks out of surgery and was barely fight-fit as the American wrestled him to a decision win. 

Cormier will now face "Rumble" Johnson for a second time after he won his last three fights by stoppage. He knocked out Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira to set up his second shot at UFC gold.

Speaking at the UFC 210 conference call ahead of the bout Cormier said: "I feel like I’m a better fighter today than I was the first time. You know the first time we fought, I fought him on three-and-a-half weeks’ notice. I had a three-week training camp. I had a three-week training camp and still outworked him.

"I know I was a different opponent than his previous guy, but he still had a full training camp. I had three-and-a-half weeks to get prepared for a championship fight and still found a way to outwork him. What’s going to happen now that I’ve been training for him for 12 weeks? It’s going to be worse than the first one,” he added.

Despite all he has achieved in MMA, Cormier desperately wants to avenge his only loss to Jones saying: "we’re talking about a rivalry with a guy who many consider the greatest fighter of all-time so a win over a guy like Jon Jones is what’s going to really probably be the one thing that solidifies where I’m trying to sit whenever I retire from this sport."

Comier and Johnson compete in the main event at UFC 210 in New York next weekend. 

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