UFC 226 is headlined by a Heavyweight Championship “Superfight,” as defending champion Stipe Miocic defends against current Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on Saturday live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Miocic, 35, is coming off a victory against Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision at UFC 220 in Boston back in January. Miocic, who owns a career record of 20-2, has successfully defended the heavyweight title on three straight occasions, the first time in UFC history any fighter accomplished that feat.
Cormier, 39, coming off a first-round TKO win against Volkan Oezdemir also at UFC 220, has the chance to make history of his own. Cormier, with a career record of 20-1 and one “no contest” against Jon Jones, can be the second fighter in history to win both the UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight championships (Randy Couture), and the first fighter to hold them both simultaneously.
Stylistically, Cormier presents an entirely different challenge for Miocic. Miocic, an accomplished wrestler, faces an opponent in Cormier who has the ability to match his mat skills and IQ. Miocic’s raw strength and power will be minimized going against a world class competitor, All-American at Oklahoma State, former two-time Olympian and strategist like Cormier.
Miocic has his roots in both wrestling, a former Division I wrestler at Cleveland State, with a dash of boxing, and a mix of other sports, too. He was a jock in high school, a three-sport letter winner, playing baseball, football and wrestling. His mother was an important presence, and encouraged him to be as active as he was.
Miocic has been the betting favorite since the title fight was first announced in January, but Cormier has narrowed the gap heading into Saturday.
(Heavyweight champion) Stipe Miocic – Favorite: -205
(Light Heavyweight champion) Daniel Cormier – Underdog: +175
One of the more fascinating fights in UFC history. Miocic is one of the quietest, most efficient fighters in the history of the sport, period. Nobody has ever had the run of results Miocic has had since he defeated Fabrício Werdum at UFC 198 in May 2016 to capture the heavyweight championship. Since, Miocic has defeated Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos, both via first-round knockout. Miocic stood Francis Ngannou in the face when Ngannou was the scorching hot prospect, and fought his fight, gassing Ngannou and getting an unsexy decision to make history with his third consecutive successful title defense.
Cormier’s resume also speaks for itself. The one blemish on a future Hall of Fame career is Cormier was never able to figure out Jon Jones. Despite Jones’ failed drug test following UFC 214 rematch last summer, the “what if” and “we’ll never know” cloud floats above Cormier; the Kryptonite (Jones) to his Superman. Like Jones, Cormier gives up an enormous height (5’11” vs. 6’4″) and reach (72.5″ vs. 80″) advantage to the defending heavyweight champion, but unlike Jones, Miocic does not specifically use that to his advantage. Jones was an opportunistic striker, using his length to keep distance and provide defense. Here, Cormier will be able to get inside Miocic and wrestle.
If Cormier wins this fight, the accomplishment completely nullifies both Jones losses for MMA talking heads and fans like me, and gives him a notch in his belt that stands alone among all fighters in UFC history. Miocic will be tested, but ultimately in what should be fairly even fight, he will best Cormier to extend his successful defense record to four.
Miocic via decision (48-47, three rounds for Miocic).
Odds provided are according to Oddsshark.com.