Daniel Cormier may be entering the final year of his fighting career -- and he's completely OK with that.
Now that may sound rather dire considering Cormier is just about to defend his light heavyweight title against Volkan Oezdemir Saturday, Jan. 20, in the co-main event at UFC 220, but the former two-time Olympian has already started to count the grains of sand left in his own hourglass.
As much as Cormier loves winning UFC championships and headlining major cards, there's one thing that means more to him than all the gold belts and paychecks in the world can provide him. Cormier's family is king, and that's why he's resolved to walk away from the sport by the time he's 40 years old, which will be in March of 2019.
"It's just a personal preference of mine to be done by the time I was 40, especially when I started having kids," Cormier said about his future when speaking to FloCombat. "My boy is going to be 7 in February, my daughter's going to be 6 in March.
"By the time I turn 40, they'll be 8 and 7, and it will be time for me to start putting that focus on my children and their athletic careers. I know it seems young, but with the goals that my kids have for themselves and the goals I have for them, they're going to have to be committed, and it's tough when dad has to be at the gym every day from 12 to 2 and from 7 to 8 and up at seven in the morning.
"I don't mind," he continued. "I don't mind making the commitment to the kids. I've spent my whole life with the focus being about me and my athletics. It's not an issue. It's not hard to think about putting that focus on my children."
Beyond focusing on his children, perhaps the reason why Cormier is settled in his decision to walk away by the time he's 40 is that he knows deep down he still has years left in the sport if that's what he wanted.
Cormier didn't even start fighting until he was in his 30s thanks to his long career spent in wrestling, so technically, he's still in his prime by comparison to most athletes.
"It's not like I don't have much time left," Cormier said. "As you see with guys like [Fabricio] Werdum, who's still at the top of the sport, Mark Hunt is still fighting, Anderson Silva is still fighting, I have time. If I chose to fight to 42 or 43, I could.
"Randy Couture started at the same time as me, and he went until he was 47. It's just my preference. If I felt like at 40 I was forced out the door [that'd be one thing], but I feel like I would be going of my own choosing to cap off my career at a young age to where I can give my kids 100-percent focus on what they're doing."
There's also something to be said for being done with the sport before the sport is done with you, and that's a phrase that resonates with Cormier when discussing his retirement.
The list of fighters who walked away on top is razor thin because very few UFC competitors have been able to give up the sport before they were virtually forced out due to losses or injury. Cormier never wants that for himself, especially when he sees the chance to spend more time with his kids and potentially retire as UFC champion.
"Not many guys get to go out on top. Not many guys go out there, fight, win, get a belt wrapped around their waist and then say, 'I think this is it.' It's just not reality for most of our champions," Cormier said. "It's the same in boxing. It's the story of combat sports. I think professional wrestling does it best, and I know it's scripted but that's the best story. The older guy has to put over the younger guy, the guy that's going to carry the flag into the next generation.
"In MMA, it almost feels like it happens the same way. Your greatest champions get beat and then they go on to become the next great champion. The only one that has really done it is Georges St-Pierre, and I applaud him for it."
Cormier has seen it time and time again when fighters don't know when to hang up the gloves, and the truth is, he has something that's worth more to him than the sport.
"It will get you. It will eat you up and spit you out," Cormier said. "Guys are chasing that rush. We're thrill seekers. Why else would guys go in there and fight? When it feels like that thrill is about to be taken away, people panic. You just have to relax and be OK with what's next."
By Damon Martin