On Saturday, August 15, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier will finalize their thrilling trilogy—their thrillogy—when they take center of the octagon in the headliner for UFC 252 in Las Vegas at the UFC APEX Center. With each man holding a win over the other, the MMA community is abuzz with fans choosing sides, including myself. Let’s take a look at what both have to offer from a more practical standpoint, and then I will make my prediction for this most excellent contest.
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Stipe Miocic ($8,200)
With a second win over DC, Stipe Miocic has a legitimate claim to heavyweight G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) status that would be hard to deny. He’d hold wins over Daniel Cormier (twice if successful in this fight), Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt. That is an impressive list of names, especially since all of those wins were by knockout. It goes without saying that Stipe is a human grenade launcher with 15 of his 19 wins being the result of a separation of consciousness, and nine of them were in the first round.
Miocic was gifted with the knowledge that body shots take their toll on DC in their second fight last year, and it’s a lesson he’ll undoubtedly take into this bout like a charged particle beam weapon. He’s an excellent counter-striker and doesn’t lose his composure in tense situations. He’s quick and light on his feet whilst still aggressive and makes a concentrated effort to control the pace and manage distance. Despite losing the first fight to Cormier by being boxed up on the inside, he is still marvelous inside the phonebooth and will present plenty of problems for DC when the fight inevitably ends up in an invisible square in the center of the infamous small cage the APEX Center uses.
In addition to being a stellar striker, Stipe also has a very respectable wrestling base with the stats and credentials to support that claim (NCAA Division 1 wrestler). He’s got great takedown game and is heavy on top with the ability to keep his opponents where he wants them. Ground-and-pound is also a tool he utilizes well, and he can transition very smoothly.
Miocic has youth and the physical advantages of height, reach and conditioning on his side, and while Cormier will almost certainly have adjusted his gameplan, sometimes it’s unavoidable to resort to old behaviors and throw caution to the wind.
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Daniel Cormier ($8,000)
Daniel Cormier also has legendary status already locked down with being one of the rare simultaneous dual belt-holders in different divisions—a champ-champ. A two-time Olympian, DC has managed to balance his outstanding wrestling with an excellent striking game that has the added benefit of legitimate knockout power. As a result, he has ten knockouts with seven of them coming in the first round. He fights well in the pocket and finished Miocic off with punches there in the first fight and will probably look to get the action there as soon as he can in this one.
Daniel is also a very aggressive pace-setter who tries to get fights finished quickly and efficiently, so he throws lots of low kicks to soften up the foundation while working up top with big overhands, hooks and an occasional kitchen sink. Cormier, like Miocic, fights from the orthodox stance, and because he has heavy hands and extraordinary grappling (he’s also a BJJ brown belt), he tends to leave his midsection wide open for tenderizing. As mentioned above, there is no doubt he will make adjustments for defending himself better in this contest, but it is worth noting.
When we talk about Cormier’s ground game, there are simply not enough adjectives in the English language to praise it properly. His takedown game is spectacular, whether it be a blast double, outside single—you name it. He transitions extraordinarily well and is also top heavy with better positional control than Miocic possesses. The most important thing to pay attention to this time around is that Daniel has asserted that he will apply his wrestling heavily and a 25-foot cage will certainly be extremely advantageous to him in this endeavor.
Daniel will be at a physical disadvantage—7.5 inches of reach and 5 inches in height—and is also three years older than Miocic. He’s known to have a great appreciation for culinary delights and has acknowledged some past weight-cutting mismanagement. That said, this is his retirement fight and he seems to be taking every factor that could affect the outcome into serious consideration, and has stated in interviews over the last few weeks that he has had an arduous 12-week training camp to prepare for this fight.
This is such a well-matched contest, but it’s so hard to pick against Stipe Miocic. He weathered the storm of Cormier’s power shots for the first couple rounds last year, found his rhythm along with the Kryptonite that makes DC weak—body work. Even with adjustments, Cormier will invariably be drawn into another firefight with a firefighter, and that will be his undoing.
Stipe Miocic via (T)KO in Round 2
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