Stipe Miocic never thought he'd actually get into a fight with Daniel Cormier.
It was just a few months ago when Cormier, the UFC's light heavyweight champion, flew to Cleveland to spend a day with Miocic, the heavyweight champion, for a special that was set to run on Fox Sports 1. The show would feature a behind-the-scenes look at the Miocic ahead of his UFC 220 matchup against Francis Ngannou.
During that day together, Miocic and Cormier became friends and in many ways started rooting for each other to do well in their respective careers. In fact, when Cormier sat next to Miocic at the UFC 220 pre-fight press conference, he almost acted as a hype man, touting the heavyweight champion's accomplishments when he was a little more soft-spoken on stage.
Even after both men were successful in their most recent title defenses, Miocic was more concerned with preparing for the birth of his daughter later this year, while Cormier deferred to his teammate and friend Cain Velasquez as the future champion.
Six days later, that all changed.
The UFC came to Miocic and Cormier with an offer to make a legitimate super fight — a champion-versus-champion challenge that would headline International Fight Week 2018 — and before long, both accepted the opportunity to square up at UFC 226 in July.
"It just happened. It was kind of crazy how it all happened," Miocic said about the fight when speaking to FloCombat. "I'm just glad it all worked out and we can both do it and both make a lot of money doing it."
While Miocic wasn't ready to disclose the financial incentives to make this fight, it's clear he was happy with what the UFC offered him to face Cormier on what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest cards of 2018.
There's no doubt money played a major part in making the fight a reality because Miocic and Cormier weren't exactly gunning for each other after their recent wins.
Miocic also knew that facing Cormier was the fight that made the most sense for his career, considering there was no clear-cut No. 1 contender already knocking on his door in the heavyweight division. He's already defeated four out of the top five ranked fighters in the UFC, with the only exception being Velasquez, who has been out of action due to injury.
Now, Miocic has a chance to do what's never been done before — win a super fight pitting the heavyweight champion against the light heavyweight champion — and as much as he respects Cormier, he loves his chances to come out on top in this showdown.
"DC's a great guy. He's an amazing fighter. He's done so much stuff in his life. He went to the Olympics twice, won the Grand Prix in Strikeforce and all that. It made sense for both of us and we're doing it," Miocic said.
"I'm going to go out there and do my thing. I worked way too hard, I sacrificed — not just me but my coaches sacrificed so much too. We walk in there as a team and we're going to win. That's what we do. We like winning and nothing's going to change."
Following his win over Ngannou at UFC 220, Miocic broke the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC heavyweight history with three, and he later proclaimed that he was the best of all time.
Considering the broken bodies of seemingly every notable heavyweight who opposed him littered across the top 10 rankings, Miocic has definitely secured his place in history.
But adding a win over champion like Cormier will only further Miocic's resume.
And as historic as that might be, Miocic can't allow his legacy to overshadow what's directly in front of him, and that's a fight with Cormier on July 7 in Las Vegas. Until that's over, Miocic is all about the mission at hand, and that's handing Cormier his first loss as a heavyweight fighter.
"I don't know about my legacy. I'm not worried about that," Miocic said. "I'm just thinking about winning a fight. I'm going to go out there and do my thing. I don't really worry about what everyone else thinks about this.
"I'm going to go out there and win. That's what I do."
By Damon Martin