Title fights don't get much bigger than this. Two of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history are set to square off for the third time in the main event of UFC 252 when Stipe Miocic faces Daniel Cormier. Each fighter has scored a knockout in the previous two meetings with Miocic getting the upper hand in the last bout. Now, the two will look to settle the score in the grudge match.
Miocic has run the proverbial gauntlet at heavyweight in his career. The champion has 15 knockouts in 19 career wins, including a stretch of Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou over four years that saw him secure the title. The loss by first-round TKO to Cormier in 2018 was just he second of his career.
Cormier, on the other hand, is among the most accomplished in the sport's history. His only two professional losses have come to Miocic and Jon Jones (a second loss to Jones was later overturned to a no contest). He won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2012 and owns wins over Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Dan Henderson, Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Anderson Silva and more. A win (even though he believes he's already there) solidifies Cormier as one of the best ever in MMA history.
Beyond the main event, a budding star in the bantamweight division is back when Sean O'Malley takes on Marlon Vera. O'Malley has been rolling since his debut at Dana White's Contender Series in 2017 and returned from a two-year USADA suspension in March with a thunderous knockout of Jose Quinonez. He then finished Eddie Wineland with authority in June. Now, he gets his toughest test yet as Vera has never been knocked out and won five of his last six bouts.
Plus, a pair of heavyweight sluggers go at it when Jair Rozenstruik faces off with former champ Junior dos Santos. Both men possess knockout power and are looking to get back in line for a shot at the title.
Can't get enough UFC? Subscribe to our podcast State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon, including a complete preview of UFC 252 with Hall of Famer 'Suga' Rashad Evans below.
Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride. Let's take a closer look at the rest of the card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC 252 fight card, odds
- Daniel Cormier -120 vs. Stipe Miocic (c) +100, heavyweight championship
- Sean O'Malley -280 vs. Marlon Vera +230, bantamweights
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik -125 vs. Junior Dos Santos +105, heavyweights
- Herbert Burns -270 vs. Daniel Pineda +220, featherweights
- Merab Dvalishvili -240 vs. John Dodson +200, bantamweights
- Vinc Pichel -130 vs. Jim Miller +110, lightweights
- Virna Jandiroba -300 vs. Felice Herrig +240, women's strawweights
- TJ Brown -150 vs. Danny Chavez +125, featherweights
- Livia Renata Souza -160 vs. Ashley Yoder +135, women's strawweights
- Parker Porter -120 vs. Chris Daukaus +100, heavyweights
- Kai Kamaka III -230 vs. Tony Kelley +190, featherweights
With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Michael Mormile (producer).
UFC 252 picks
|Miocic (c) vs. Cormier||Cormier||Miocic||Miocic||Miocic||Cormier|
|O'Malley vs. Vera||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley|
|Rozenstruik vs. dos Santos||dos Santos||dos Santos||Rozenstruik||Rozenstruik||Rozenstruik|
|Burns vs. Pineda||Burns||Burns||Burns||Burns||Burns|
|Dodson vs. Dvalishvili||Dvalishvili||Dvalishvili||Dodson||Dodson||Dodson|
Campbell on why Cormier will win: If Cormier is able to shake off nagging injuries and get into five-round championship shape once more, this is his fight to lose. He's simply better in every category save for stamina and top-end power and has more ways to win. Should DC give Miocic an avenue for victory, the underrated defending champion will take it. But if this trilogy becomes more tense and technical than the first two, it plays more into Cormier's hands, particularly if he can do a better job mixing in takedowns and sticking to the game plan.
Brookhouse on why Miocic will win: Cormier is 41, more than a year older than when he had originally planned to retire. Miocic also has to be thinking constantly about how digging to Cormier's body completely changed their first meeting. With Cormier's stamina already a potential issue, Miocic can sap Cormier early with body work and also open up shots to the head as Cormier brings his hands down to defend the body, very similar to how things played out to end the second fight between the two. That said, this is as hard a pick as any fight in recent memory, which is a product of how truly elite these two men are.
Campbell on why O'Malley will win: Vera is too dangerous and versatile to imagine O'Malley cutting through him with the ease that Anderson Silva did in his UFC debut against Chris Leben. With that said, however, we still don't know just how great O'Malley really is. That's what makes this fight so intriguing. Expect Vera's all-action pace to force O'Malley to have to lean on his intangibles in ways he never has before and prove he can make adjustments against one of the division's toughest outs. If "Sugar" Sean really is for real, he will do just that. Every step up to now, he has played the part perfectly.
Campbell on why dos Santos will win: At 36, the former champion has looked at times in recent years like the end could be near only to right the ship and win a big fight. His three-fight win streak two years ago, which included a stoppage of Derrick Lewis, was a reminder that he's still got it. But what happens should he be knocked out for the third straight fight when he takes on the savage Rozenstruik on Saturday? Given his opponent's still raw skills, this is a fight JDS very much can win by boxing on the outside and patiently relying on his technique. It may get dicey at times, but there's enough at stake for him to keep hope alive that there's still plenty left in the tank.
Who will win UFC 252, and how exactly will each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight on Saturday's card, all from the accomplished expert who's up over $20,000 and has nailed 16 of the last 18 UFC main events.