UFC 241 predictions: How Stipe Miocic can defeat Daniel Cormier in rematch, regain heavyweight title
Miocic was embarrassed in the first meeting, but the second time around could be drastically different
Stipe Miocic was widely argued as the greatest UFC heavyweight to ever step into the Octagon heading into UFC 226 on July 7, 2018. With a record three consecutive title defenses under his belt, fans and pundits alike had every right to view him as such. But then ... Daniel Cormier happened. Defending his title against the then-light heavyweight champion and one of the greatest of all time, it took all of 4 minutes and 33 seconds for Miocic to be humbled via first-round TKO by Cormier. The noted grappling expert stripped Miocic of his championship by defeating him at his own game -- an outcome few had predicted.
Saturday night in the main event of UFC 241 in Anaheim, California, Miocic (18-3) seeks the ultimate redemption as he aims to erase the nightmare from his memory that was the UFC 226 loss. Given the shocking nature of that finish 13 months ago, few are offering Miocic any benefit of the doubt. But he certainly has the ability to, and here are a few reasons why.
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Patience is a virtue. Saturday night's main event bout will serve as Miocic's first fight back since losing to Cormier (22-1, 1 NC), and that was entirely of his own doing. From the moment the official decision was announced that evening in Las Vegas, the Cleveland-native was adamant that his next bout would only be contested opposite Cormier in a rematch for the heavyweight title. He became more active on social media as he lobbied for the opportunity despite being consistently shut down by both Cormier and UFC president Dana White, both of whom were set on Brock Lesnar being the No. 1 contender for a brief period of time following the post-match antics that went down following UFC 226.
Despite the Lesnar smoke and mirrors and Cormier successfully defending the title against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November 2018, Miocic never wavered and bided his time as some shook their heads at this strategy. The UFC heavyweight division being as shallow as it is, the patience paid off and Miocic got the last laugh. Miocic, one of the most intelligent and disciplined competitors out there, has been laser-focused on earning another crack at the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world among many. All of his preparation has been singularly targeted in the direction of the reigning heavyweight champion, even when he was unsure the rematch would even take place. Speaking of preparation and discipline ...
More disciplined boxing attack. When you watch back the TKO highlight from the UFC 226 finish, you'll see Cormier surprisingly teeing off on Miocic in the center of the cage. But you have to also ask yourself: How did it get to that point? How did we arrive to the destination of the man everyone was picking to, if anything, out-grapple the former champion treating him like a human punching bag? That's because, while Miocic has regularly displayed discipline throughout his career, he became a bit too overzealous in the opening moments.
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Miocic came out in the first round ready to keep the fight purely on the feet in the center of the Octagon, but it wasn't long before he found himself tangled with Cormier against the fence. That was a glaring mistake. Firmly in his wheelhouse, Cormier was able to wear down Miocic just enough to create that air of vulnerability that ultimately led to the outcome. Spending the better part of the last year preparing for this specific opportunity, expect Miocic to correct that error in judgement and do everything in his power to be more disciplined with his boxing technique this time around to give him the best chance of coming out on top and regaining his title.
Just how focused is DC? Cormier is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest fighters we will ever have the pleasure of enjoying in all of combat sports; no hyperbole, that is my personal belief. Cormier is also human, and humans, at some point or another, are forced to deal with distractions that veer them off their intended pathway. When a subject involving Cormier is brought up, even recently, very rarely will you hear Miocic included. Mostly, Cormier is tied to either when he intends to formally retire or the more common question of whether we will see a trilogy fight with longtime nemesis and reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Cormier has remained relatively dismissive of Miocic, dating back to his UFC 226 victory. While he has provided his share of commentary relating to the build for the rematch, he still seems much more preoccupied with other endeavors, specifically the Jones trilogy scenario. Miocic has been locked in on Cormier for over a year, while the current heavyweight champion seemingly has his mind all over the place heading into Saturday. Should these distractions get the better of Cormier, then we may talking more about a potential trilogy fight with Miocic exiting UFC 241 than we will the Jones trilogy.
Who wins Cormier vs. Miocic, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on all 12 fights at UFC 241, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $22,000 on MMA in the past year, and find out.
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