Los Angeles, Dec 29: Daniel Cormier is no longer the UFC's light heavyweight champion after relinquishing the title.
Cormier said he would rather relinquish the belt than have it stripped ahead of the matchup between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Saturday.
In a statement to ESPN, the 39-year-old said on Friday: "I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title. I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I've defended with my all for three and a half years.
"Being stripped of a title suggests you've done something wrong, and I haven't. I'd rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped.
"I've defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it."
Cormier last fought at light heavyweight in January when he defeated Volkan Oezdemir by TKO in the second round.
After that, Cormier accepted a chance to fight for the heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic and earned that belt with a first round TKO of the former champion.
He defended the belt in November when he beat Derrick Lewis by submission.
Jones and Gustafsson will now fight for the light heavyweight title as Cormier steps away. The champion has said he wishes to retire at 40-years-old and does not wish to fight Jones again who has handed him the only official loss of his career.
Jones also had a win vacated against Cormier after he tested positive for steroids following UFC 214.
Cormier does not yet have another fight lined up for the heavyweight title.