UFC 252 is headlined by one of the most highly anticipated main events of the year and one of the biggest title fights in the history of the UFC heavyweight division. Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic will face off in a trilogy on Saturday night, and the winner of this fight has an excellent case to be considered the best heavyweight in the history of the UFC. The matchup is tied 1-1: Cormier won their first fight in July 2018, and Miocic won the rematch in August 2019.
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- Daniel Cormier (-115)
- Stipe Miocic (-104)
- Over 2.5 (-148)
- Under 2.5 (+110)
To Go the Distance
- No (-225)
- Yes (+165)
Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic are two of the most accomplished heavyweights in MMA history. The winner of this fight should probably be considered the top heavyweight in UFC history, although that spot is still up for debate in MMA history given Fedor Emelianenko’s dominance in the PRIDE FC promotion in Japan.
This is a very competitive matchup, and it’s reflected in the DraftKings Sportsbook betting odds. Cormier’s -115 moneyline is barely ahead of Miocic’s -104, and the two most likely outcomes of this fight are also about even. Stipe Miocic by KO, TKO or DQ sits at +185, with Daniel Cormier by KO, TKO or DQ at +195 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Both Cormier and Miocic have good wrestling bases, but Cormier’s wrestling is on a different level. Cormier competed in the Olympics in freestyle wrestling and is one of the top wrestlers in the history of the UFC. Cormier also has the edge in quickness and athleticism. Miocic has the edge in both height and reach, possessing about eight inches in reach and six inches in height over Cormier, who is an unusually short heavyweight. Cormier is officially listed at 5’11”, but that number is probably a little inflated. Each fighter possesses strong knockout power.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, this is the third fight between the two, so there has been a lot of fight time recorded to analyze the matchup. Over the roughly 24 minutes of fight time, Cormier has been the better fighter for the majority of those minutes.
In their first fight in July 2018 at UFC 226, Cormier knocked Miocic out in the first round. The knockout came off a short right hand from the clinch that Miocic did not see. Miocic’s chin was exposed due to Cormier having an underhook with his left arm, which caused Miocic to lower his left hand to prevent Cormier from getting double-underhooks. Cormier then quickly attacked Miocic’s exposed chin and ended the fight with a decisive stoppage.
In the rematch, Cormier was even more dominant early in the fight. In Round 1, Cormier logged a big single-leg takedown, two advances on the ground and 37 significant strikes in a dominant open to the fight. Cormier notably mixed his elite wrestling with his striking in the opening round, which had Miocic looking helpless.
After a dominant start to the fight, Cormier’s gameplan began to erode. He became one-dimensional and foolishly stopped using his wrestling, which slowly allowed Miocic back into the fight. Cormier also relaxed his striking defense, which allowed Miocic to start landing clean punches. After landing just seven total significant strikes in Round 1—in part due to spending half the round on his back—Miocic landed 46 significant strikes in Round 2 after Cormier stopped using his elite wrestling.
While Miocic had more success in Round 2, Cormier still won the round, landing 56 significant strikes. Cormier again out-struck Miocic in Round 3, landing 57 significant strikes, compared to 34 for Miocic. Miocic was largely standing in front of Cormier without much movement for the first three rounds, which allowed Cormier to keep logging significant strike volume despite abandoning his wrestling. Had Cormier kept mixing his striking with his wrestling, there’s a good chance this fight would have been over before the championship rounds and there wouldn’t even be a need for a trilogy.
However, Miocic turned the fight around in Round 4 after landing a liver shot, which hurt Cormier. Miocic took notice of the effect the liver shot had on Cormier and kept attacking the body, and eventually Cormier was softened up enough for Miocic to land a combination to the head that finished the fight. This was a stunning turn of events given how much better Cormier looked for most of the fight, but it was a justified outcome given Cormier’s erosion in strategy.
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Cormier’s best way to win is to get inside using his advantages in wrestling and quickness and throw close-distance punches against the taller and longer Miocic. This should be helped by the fact that the event is using the smaller cage at the UFC APEX Center, so Cormier will have less distance to close to get inside on Miocic.
I think Cormier is the better overall fighter and has more ways to win. If Cormier does not foolishly abandon his wrestling again, he will be in excellent position to work Miocic over like he was doing in Round 1 of their second fight. Miocic was getting mostly dominated through two fights against Cormier until he landed the liver shots in Round 4 of their second fight, and Cormier should be prepared to defend that this time around. I expect Cormier to blend his wrestling with his striking to get inside and use dirty boxing to beat Miocic and reclaim the title. Since the DraftKings Sportsbook odds are more favorable for a Cormier win by decision (+350) rather than KO/TKO (+195), I’ll go with Cormier by decision.
Prediction: Daniel Cormier By Decision
DraftKings Sportsbook odds for Daniel Cormier By Decision: +350
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