Daniel Cormier knows all about the fighters who just can’t stay away from the sport after retirement.
From journeymen to multi-time former champions, the number of athletes who call it a career and then announce a comeback is almost too long to list. For Cormier, he already went past the deadline he set for himself after initially planning to retire around his 40th birthday but timing, injuries and opportunity kept him active until August when he retired following a third fight with reigning UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Afterwards, Cormier pulled himself out of the UFC’s anti-doping program, which is typically the strongest indicator that an athlete is serious about hanging up the gloves for good. But then in September, the former two-division champion heard his name called by Jan Blachowicz after he captured the vacant light heavyweight title in a fight against Dominick Reyes.
It didn’t take long for Cormier to remind Blachowicz that he was happily retired while offering his congratulations on the win. Behind the scenes, however, the two-time Olympian had a brief moment where he actually contemplated a comeback.
“I’ve got to be honest. When Jan Blachowicz was like ‘hey, you want to disrespect me, get off the couch and come fight me.’ And I think to myself maybe I’ll go fight Jan Blachowicz,” Cormier told MMA Fighting on Thursday. “I’ll go fight him and get this done and then I can walk away.
“That lasted about 15 minutes and then I completely understood that I was completely done.”
According to Cormier, the competitive fire that burned inside him while he was wrestling and then fighting will never truly be extinguished but every athlete has to know when to walk away.
After hearing Blachowicz throw out that challenge, Cormier immediately started thinking about the possibility that perhaps he could fight again.
“Obviously every great fighter feels they can win,” Cormier explained. “I was like ‘maybe I’ll go fight Jan Blachowicz’ cause there seems to be a path for that. When I left 205, I just kind of left. I vacated the title and now that this new champion is there with not that many big name fights on the horizon.
“Now he does now that he has Izzy (Israel Adesanya) but at the time he didn’t. It was either going to be Glover Teixeira or Thiago Santos. Well, if you’re looking at a Jan vs. Glover or Thiago, that’s a great fight but if you’re looking at a Jan Blachowicz vs. DC, that’s a bigger fight. It’s like oh my goodness this could be an opportunity.”
After making promises to his family along with a huge number of new job opportunities presented to him following the end of his fighting career, Cormier opted to remain retired.
“I thought about that for like 15 minutes and then I was like you know what? I’m good,” Cormier said with a laugh. “The thought of going down to 205 [pounds] and all this other stuff. Yeah, I think I’m fine. That was it.”
Outside of that small hiccup, Cormier is completely satisfied in retirement and it turns out his day-to-day life hasn’t changed all that much.
“The transition’s been fun and honestly it’s not that different,” Cormier said. “I feel like for the last few years, I’ve been kind of prepping for this life. Because I fought three times in 2018 but then I fought once in  and then I fought once this year. So the reality was I wasn’t the most active guy anymore, right? So the vast majority of the year, I would go in the gym, spar and workout some but then I was doing mostly television things in the off time.
“Now, it’s just not as much in the gym sparring and doing all those things. The workouts are at home in the garage. You jump on the treadmill, maybe the sauna and you’re good. You don’t have to get punched in the head anymore. So I feel like I’ve almost been preparing myself for this life for a couple of years.”