Two Champions Meet In The Main Event of UFC 226

Daniel Cormier Moves Back Up To Heavyweight For A Chance At The Title

UFC 226 was set up to be one of the most stacked cards of the year.  The main event being between the heavyweight champion and the lightweight champion, the co-main event featuring a featherweight title fight and two of the hardest hitting heavyweights squaring off.

But the injury bug strikes again the week of the fight, this time with featherweight champion Max Holloway.  The champ was supposed to fight #1 Brian Ortega, but Holloway was pulled from the card due to “concussion like symptoms.”  Ortega was ultimately pulled from the card as well.

Photo: John Locher/AP Photo

As if that isn’t enough, Thursday at the press conference, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier fell when he tripped on a cord, hurting his knee.  Cormier said afterwards there is some swelling to his knee, but it won’t keep him from fighting heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic Saturday night.  The video can be seen below via MMAWeekly.com’s YouTube page.

The fight between Cormier and Miocic is very intriguing because these are two defending champions in their weight classes fighting one another.

The light heavyweight champion Cormier (20-1-1) has beat every fighter put in front of him, except Jon Jones.  But there’s an asterisk next to both of his losses to Jones.  His first loss to Jones was via decision, but Jones did fail a drug test for cocaine.  The second fight Cormier lost via third round knockout, but it was later revealed Jones tested positive for a banned substance, so the fight was changed to a No Contest.

Photo: AP Photo/The Las Vegas Sun, Steve Marcus

Unfortunately for Cormier, the visions of Jones beating him twice are still burned into the minds of fans and media alike.  If you take those two tainted losses out (which everyone should) Cormier would constantly be talked about as one of the best ever.  He resume is very impressive.  He has beaten former UFC champions like Josh Barnett, Frank Mir and Anderson Silva.

Photo: AP Photo/John Locher

He has defended the light heavyweight belt three times.  He is undefeated at heavyweight at 13-0 before moving down to light heavyweight.  For the first time since October 2013, Cormier returns to heavyweight.  He is looking to become just the second fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously (McGregor) and the fourth fighter to win a belt in two different weight classes (Couture, Penn, McGregor).

Miocic is another all-time great, being the only heavyweight in UFC history to defend the heavyweight strap three consecutive times.  The UFC has put former champions and up-and-coming fighters in front of him and he has knocked them down.

Photo: AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Miocic has also defeated three former champions, (Arlovski, Werdum, dos Santos) and all three of those wins were first round knockouts.  Miocic won the belt when he knocked out Fabrício Werdum in Werdum’s home country of Brazil.  Since winning the belt, he has knocked out Alistar Overeem and  Junior dos Santos as well as dominated Francis Ngannou over the course of 25 minutes.

Both Cormier and Miocic, for whatever reason, aren’t the superstars even though they both deserve to be.  They are both two of the best ever, yet, the general public doesn’t give them the recognition they deserve.

Cormier may be most famous for his rivalry with Jones and even though Jones wasn’t clean for either one of those fights, the public remembers Cormier losing.

Photo: AP/John Locher

Miocic doesn’t look as scary as the fighters he has defeated and doesn’t talk smack about his opponents leading up to his fights.  He is a model champion and a part-time firefighter in Ohio.  But like Cormier, for some reason, he isn’t the superstar he deserves to be.

This two fighters stack up well against each other.  Miocic (18-2) has a wrestling background, but 14 of his 18 wins have been via knockout.  He has a substantial height and reach advantage over Cormier (6’4 to 5’11 and 80″ to 72″) but Miocic likes to fight on the inside.

Photo: AP Photo/David Dermer

Cormier also likes to fight on the inside, using one hand to control his opponent’s head and the other hand to throw and land his punches.  When Cormier got knocked out against Jones, it was a headkick that dropped him.  Miocic doesn’t throw headkicks, so the only way we have seen Cormier get finished, isn’t in Miocic’s wheelhouse.

One chink in Miocic’s armor is he gets hit with a lot of leg kicks.  The best chance Cormier has to win this fight is by dragging this fight into the later rounds.  If Cormer lands leg kicks against Miocic, this can set up for Cormier to take the fight to the ground and grind out a decision victory.

Miocic needs to use his range and not let Cormier get on the inside.  Both these fighters like to come forward and keep their opponents’ backs to the cage, so it’ll be interesting to see who is able to control the octagon more.

Prediction:  Cormier via decision

The new co-main event is a heavyweight showdown between former number-one contender Ngannou and #5 Derrick Lewis.  These two love to stand and trade shots, but look for Lewis to take Ngannou to the ground, where we saw Miocic take his fight against Ngannou and have success.

Prediction:  Lewis 2nd round TKO

 

 

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Greg LaFountain is from a small town in upstate New York called Peru. After graduating high school, Greg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving his country for four years. After the Marines, Greg went to Pensacola State College where he got his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He then moved to Tampa and enrolled at the University of South Florida where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications. Since graduating from USF, Greg interned with Bucs Blitz, covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Greg joined Genesis in the fall of 2016, covering Florida State Football, the NFL and the UFC.