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For Daniel Cormier, becoming a double-champ was easy – figuring out how to stay that way will be much harder

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All hail the champ-champ, the conqueror of two divisions, he of the two belts and the mean right hand.

Thanks to his victory in the UFC 226 main event Saturday night, Daniel Cormier now holds UFC titles in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions – and he means to defend them both.

So he says, anyway. So his plan goes. But we’ve heard this one before in MMA, and we’ve yet to see it work out that way.

Remember the last double champ, this mouthy Irish guy with a love of profane pinstripes and a hatred of buses? He also teased the idea of defending both of his two UFC titles after he won first the featherweight and then the lightweight belt.

That was nearly two years ago. Since then, McGregor has been stripped of both belts after defending neither. He hasn’t competed at all in the entire sport of MMA since claiming that second title, and it doesn’t seem like he has any immediate plans to change that.

So that’s one way things can go. The other is the vision Cormier has set out for himself, which includes a 205-pound title defense in the fall and a heavyweight title defense in the winter. After that? His birthday, the big 4-0, and then retirement. So long and thanks for all the money.

But let’s be real here, the money fight for Cormier (and for the UFC) is not at light heavyweight. Not unless another bout of diverticulitis knocks Brock Lesnar down about 80 pounds.

The payday is waiting at heavyweight, where Cormier can defend the moniker of “baddest man on the planet” against a proven pro wrestling pay-per-view draw.

That fight can’t happen until January at the earliest, thanks to Lesnar’s lingering USADA suspension. But putting Cormier in the cage before then to defend his other title is a big risk. What if he gets beat? What if he gets hurt? These are very real possibilities for a champ in his late 30s who’ll have to take off weight right after putting it on.

But if Cormier doesn’t defend his light heavyweight title before fighting Lesnar, he’s unlikely to defend it all. And then what?

The simple answer is that he’ll probably be stripped and the UFC will have to bestow it upon some other light heavyweight, who may or may not get the legitimacy that usually comes with a belt. Plus, at some point fans might get wise to the whole double champ routine, since what’s the point if no one ever keeps the belts they’ve won?

There’s also another question still yet to be answered: What happens to both these titles if Cormier follows through on his retirement plans?

Whether he defends the 205-pound belt or not, it’ll likely end up vacant sooner or later, especially if Cormier truly has less than a year left in this sport. And whether he wins or loses against Lesnar, who clearly has no plans of becoming a full-time fighter at this point, the heavyweight strap is also likely to be orphaned soon.

In that sense, it’s not so different from what happened after McGregor claimed two titles at the same time, even if it’s all for very different reasons. As much fun as it is to watch a reigning champion chase down a second title, sorting through the aftermath has proven to be a whole lot tougher.

For complete coverage of UFC 226, check out the UFC Events section of the site.



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