Presented by UFC 241 on ESPN+
First things first: Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier ARE NOT fighting this weekend. There’s another UFC title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche on tap, available exclusively on ESPN+.
On August 17, however, in the headlining bout of the UFC 241 Pay Per View main card, Miocic is coming for what he believes is rightfully his — the UFC heavyweight title. The very title he lost to Cormier in July 2018.
Very quietly, Stipe Miocic has distinguished himself as one of the greatest heavyweights to ever fight mixed martial arts. A blue-collar midwestern firefighter with vicious knockout power reached the pinnacle of MMA, rising up from the Cleveland suburbs all the way to the bright lights under the Octagon, setting UFC records with his powerful wrestle-boxing style.
And then, just like that, with a single right hook from Cormier as the pair broke from the clinch, it was all gone …
It’s been more than a year since we’ve seen Miocic in action, as the former champ sat on the sidelines while Cormier flirted with a potential matchup against WWE legend and former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar. Miocic refused to fight his way back into the title picture because, well, why should he have had to? With a UFC record three heavyweight title defenses under his belt, Miocic felt he was deserving of a rematch against Cormier.
He also felt as though he was the rightful challenger, and both of these distinctions are particularly important when looking ahead to the upcoming UFC 241 main event on ESPN+.
See, rematches in MMA are actually pretty rare. Unlike boxing, where trilogies seem to manifest every couple of years, mixed martial arts has more movement within individual divisions, so whenever there’s an opportunity for a competitive rematch, it piques anticipation and interest.
This second Cormier vs. Miocic bout is no exception.
Looking at Miocic’s resume, he has one rematch in the books, splitting a pair of fights with former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Narrowly losing the first fight in 2014 (looking at the post-fight pictures, it’s astonishing to imagine that a heavily bruised dos Santos won that fight), Miocic needed less than three minutes to KO dos Santos at UFC 211 in 2017. Miocic, who was in the midst of the hottest streak of his career at the time, learned from the first bout and corrected all of the mistakes he made.
There’s no doubt that this type of acumen to fix any holes in his game will factor into how Miocic approaches the rematch against Cormier.
Then there’s the matter of fighting as the challenger …
The last time Stipe Miocic entered the cage as the challenger in a UFC title fight, he smoked Fabricio Werdum in front of 45,000-plus Brazilians at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. He literally silenced an entire stadium in enemy territory, landing a short right hook while retreating from a charging opponent, sending then-champ Werdum crumpling to the ground, unconscious before he hit the mat.
That type of success in the challenger role can also play a factor when Miocic meets Cormier in the main event of the UFC 241 Pay Per View on ESPN+.
Losing the first bout against Cormier, Miocic enters UFC 241 as a slight underdog. It’s an accurate betting line, but what oddsmakers are failing to recognize is that Miocic has headlined some of the biggest fight cards in UFC history. His bout against Werdum was the third most highly attended event in UFC history, and his first title defense, against Alistair Overeem, sold out the very same Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland where Lebron James packed the house for more than a decade.
Perhaps not quite on that Lebron level, Miocic still managed to achieve legend status in Cleveland. In fact, it was his first UFC title that kicked off the whole “Believe-land” era.
There’s no actual correlation between Miocic’s sales record, regional acclaim, and performance in the cage. Just because he’s heralded as one of Cleveland’s greatest athletes doesn’t mean he’ll perform any better against Cormier this time around. But then again, it does.
Stipe Miocic is a winner and one hell of a fighter. He’s recorded eight knockouts and eight performance bonuses in the UFC heavyweight division. He’s knocked out three former UFC champions and headlined nine cards since making it to the UFC in 2011. Oh, and he absolutely dominated African wrecking machine Francis Ngannou with a near-perfect performance, sweeping every round on every judges scorecard. So why can’t he get the better of Cormier this time around?
Stranger things have happened inside the Octagon, and it’ll be worthwhile to tune in to the UFC 241 Pay Per View main card on ESPN+ on August 17 to find out if Stipe Miocic can win the belt back.
Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic (Main Event)
Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz (Co-Main Event)
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa
Gabriel Benitez vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch
UFC 241 Prelims*
Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen
Drakkar Klose vs. Christos Giagos
Manny Bermudez vs. Casey Kenney
Devonte Smith vs. John Makdessi
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Brandon Davis
Sabina Mazo vs. Shana Dobson
Hannah Cifers vs. Jodie Esquibel
*Bout Order Subject to Change
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