UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic said Thursday retirement has been a constant thought dating back to the first time he stepped in the Octagon.
"I think about retirement after every fight," Miocic told reporters. "Since my first fight at UFC 136, I think about retirement."
The 37-year-old Ohio native scored a victory over Joey Beltran in that UFC 136 debut bout in October 2011. He's fought 16 times in the UFC and 22 times overall across all MMA promotions, posting a 19-3 record while facing off with most of the generation's top heavyweights.
Miocic said he's still enjoying the grind that goes along with combat sports, but it sounds like the finish line may be fast approaching.
"I love what I do," he said. "The minute I'm not having fun and it acts like a job, I'm out. Right now, I'm good. I'm happy. I had a great camp, to the best of my abilities, especially being quarantined with this pandemic going on, but honestly, I feel great. We'll see how long I can go. I don't know about 40. God bless D.C., but I don't know about that. A little bit longer."
With Cormier, 41, planning to walk away even if he captures the heavyweight belt for a second time, Miocic may remain in title contention even with a loss Saturday.
He told reporters Thursday he'll let the UFC decide what happens based on the result.
"There's a lot of guys," he said. "[Francis] Ngannou's looking great, [Curtis] Blaydes, I don't know. It's what the UFC wants. I fight. I'm not a matchmaker. My focus is on Saturday. That's all I care about. There's a lot of good guys coming up. It's great to see the division getting stronger. Right now, Saturday's my main objective."
Cormier is a slight favorite (-120) over Miocic (+100) after they split their first two meetings, per Caesars Palace.
UFC 252 is set to take place at the promotion's APEX facility in Las Vegas. The main card is scheduled to kick off at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.