Daniel Cormier believes his name will belong in the same bracket as Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning if he retires by winning back the UFC heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic on Saturday.
Win or lose in the Las Vegas trilogy bout, Cormier (22-2-0) will go down as an all-time great in the mixed martial arts world, having reigned in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions in UFC.
Cormier it set to bid farewell to the fight game but says he should be considered alongside Chicago Bulls legend Jordan – a six-time NBA champion - and Manning, who retired a Super Bowl winner, if he can regain the belt he dropped to Miocic a year ago.
"I think it puts you right alongside the greatest sports athletes of all time. Michael Jordan won with the Chicago Bulls when they beat the Utah Jazz, unfortunately he came back, I won't come back," he told a pre-fight news conference ahead of UFC 252.
"Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in his last season, it would put me in that type of sphere with some of the greatest athletes that have competed in any sport. So, when I win on Saturday, I will retire in that way."
Cormier's legacy is without question, but a defeat would mean he ends his career with losing records against the two fighters who have also reigned in the same era - Miocic and Jon Jones.
While admitting such a scenario would be damaging to his own ego, Cormier says he has earned the respect of his fellow professionals.
"I'm a guy with a big ego and that would suck, I gotta be honest. To think there would be two guys in my career that were just better than me and I had multiple chances to beat them, it would suck," he added.
"But Dana [White] didn't just go 'hey DC, you're a great guy I love you, fight for all these championships', I earned all these opportunities.
"So, all these tough guys I fight, again 10 title fights in a row, that's all earned, it's not because they like me. These guys aren't my friends to the point where they just give me championship fights.
"I train, I fight and I win - that's why I continue to find myself in this position. But all this pressure is earned. The pressure of fighting a guy like Stipe Miocic, the pressure of fighting a guy like Jon Jones twice - when Jones beat me and he got in trouble I beat everyone else until he got back then I beat everybody else again until I fought Stipe.
"All this s***'s earned, man, it's not given and I think people need to recognise that."
Miocic (19-3-0), who lost the first bout between the two back in July 2018, has no qualms with the focus being on his retiring opponent.
"All good. He can take it all, man. It's all good. I don't mind it. Listen, good for him. I'm just going to hang out in the back," he said.
"Thank God we're done with this. It's been great. We're done. Rubber match, everyone wants a trilogy, but when it's all said and done, it's going to be over.
"I think it's always personal whenever you fight, because [your opponent is] trying to do something. They're trying to beat you. They're trying to take something away from you.
"I've got no ill will towards the man and he's going to have a good retirement. God bless him, and I wish nothing but the best for him."