Stipe Miocic and his team have recently talked about facing “new” challenges when the UFC heavyweight champ returns to action following surgery to correct an eye injury. That seemed to indicate a thought to move away from the planned trilogy fight with Daniel Cormier, the former two-division champ who has said he will either fight Miocic one final time or retire from the sport. UFC president Dana White, however, has now made it clear the UFC has no other plan for the heavyweight title than a third edition of Cormier vs. Miocic.

“It’s very clear,” White told ESPN. “[Miocic] is hurt. When he’s not, we’ll make the fight. You saw Cormier basically come out and say, ‘Stipe has the ability to retire me. If he doesn’t take this fight, I’m going to retire.’ We’ll see how this thing plays out.”

Miocic has been on the shelf due to surgery to address injuries suffered from eye pokes in the second fight with Cormier. Miocic regained the heavyweight belt with a fourth-round knockout in August. In their first meeting, in July 2018, Cormier won the title with a knockout in the first round.

Speaking with ESPN in January, Jim Walter, Miocic’s agent, stated, “After his health is cleared, we hope to have Stipe back in competition this year in a fight that makes sense and against an opponent that Stipe has not beaten before. He is more than wiling to defend his belt. If an opportunity presents itself outside the UFC, Tyson Fury and Stipe spoke face-to-face in Las Vegas at the Conor McGregor fight.”

On the UFC Fight Night 166 post-fight show, Cormier addressed those comments saying the fight would happen because it’s what was supposed to happen.

White also addressed the possibility Miocic could remain out of action long enough to force the UFC’s hand on kickstarting the division again. Though, White noted, Cormier has been offered other fights with Miocic out of action but has not taken the UFC up on any of those options.

“I have offered him other fights,” White said. “[But] he feels Stipe is the fight he can get up for. That’s what he wants. And he doesn’t want anyone else. I can’t make him fight anyone else. He needs to do it. I’d like to see that fight happen.”

More UFC news, rumors

  • Speaking with the media on Thursday ahead of his UFC light heavyweight title defense on Saturday, Jon Jones addressed his issues with middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and brushed off the idea of fighting him in a showdown of champions. “Honestly, I have no interest in Israel, at the end of the day,” Jones said. “Anderson Silva was a guy everyone wanted to see me fight and I never wanted to do it because I had so much respect for Anderson. I feel the same way with Izzy but it’s not coming from a place of respect.”
  • Chas Skelly has been forced out of his planned UFC Norfolk bout with Grant Dawson, the second time the fight has fallen through. “It kills me to say this, but I took an injury while rolling on Tuesday night, and will no longer be fighting February 29th in Norfolk, Va.,” Skelly posted on Instagram. “I’ve been preparing for this fight for what seems like two whole fight camps. My mind and body were ready to go, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards this time.”
  • Newly crowned featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski may have his first rival as a champ with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung recently posting on Instagram that Volkanovski has “pillows for hands.” Volkanovski fired back at Jung with his own post, showing Jung lying face down on the canvas after being knocked out by Yair Rodriguez, writing “I know I haven’t been knocked out cold in the last 10 years.”