UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC 226 card in Las Vegas.
Updated: July 5, 2018 • 6:15 PM ET
Stipe Miocic is Cleveland's heavyweight king.
UFC 226 will take place this Saturday, and the card is stacked with a title fight, heavyweight monsters, former champions and plenty of contenders. The event will be historic no matter who wins the main event between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier, the former of whom will defend his heavyweight belt in the bout. Yet in still, the winner of the main event will further solidify their eventual position in the UFC Hall of Fame, as both men have likely already earned their place.
Miocic has won six straight fights and hasn’t lost since 2014. He has defended the heavyweight belt three times, which is the most in UFC history, but he entered his last fight as the underdog against one of the most heavily hyped fighters in recent memory, Francis Ngannou. Nevertheless, Miocic completely dominated Ngannou, not only showing his toughness but his fight IQ, as well.
The 35-year-old from Cleveland has defeated the likes of Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, Mark Hunt, Ngannou and Roy Nelson. It seems that every time people overlook him, Miocic proves that he’s one of the best fighters of all time. He approaches each fight with the same blue-collar work ethic, and it will be no different against Cormier on Saturday night.
“It’s business,” Miocic recently told MMAWeekly. “I always want the best for him, but unfortunately, he’s gotta fight me though. It’s business. Like I said, that’s what I signed up for.
“I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to fight.”
With a win, Miocic will have defended the heavyweight belt four times, which for now seems like a number that no one will be able to reach. He’ll have no easy test in Cormier, but every time Miocic is doubted, he proves those doubters wrong.
The only blemish on Cormier’s record is Jon Jones. Jones knocked out Cormier in their last fight in July 2017 (eventually ruled a no contest), but Cormier also lost by unanimous decision after fighting Jones for five hard rounds in their first fight in 2015. Other than those two fights, Cormier has beaten everyone that has stepped into the Octagon with him. He defended the light heavyweight belt in January against Volkan Oezdemir, winning by second-round TKO.
Cormier has defeated Anthony Johnson twice, Alexander Gustafson, Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson. One of the interesting things about Saturday’s fight is that Cormier is undefeated as a heavyweight, defeating fighters such as Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva. If Cormier wins this weekend, he’ll join Conor McGregor as they only fighters to ever hold a belt in two different weight classes at the same time.
Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler, and Miocic is a former D-1 wrestler and Golden Gloves boxer. Each fighter’s skill set makes the fight hard to predict, as both are proven grapplers and strikers. Both champions have also proven they have durability and strength, so fans should probably prepare for a chess match.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a do-not-blink heavyweight fight between No. 1 ranked Francis Ngannou and No. 5 Derek Lewis. Ngannou crashed onto the heavyweight scene by winning his first six UFC fights with five being by vicious knockout. His winning streak and scary power earned him a title shot at UFC 220 in January, but champion Stipe Miocic exposed the holes in his game. Ngannou is trying to bounce back with a big win to possibly earn another title shot.
Lewis is 7-1 in his last eight fights with big wins over Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. The question will be, does he engage in a slugfest with Ngannou, or does he pace himself much like he did against Browne and wear on the bigger fighter?
The rest of the main card
Welterweight fight - No. 14 LW Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry - moved to main card with the cancelation of the Brian Ortega vs. Max Holloway fight
Mike Perry was originally scheduled to face Yancy Medeiros, but No. 14 lightweight Paul Felder stepped in for the welterweight bout after an injury forced Medeiros to withdraw. Perry is 2-3 in his last five fights and will attempt to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Max Griffin in February. Felder has won three straight fights at lightweight and is stepping in at welterweight in what is expected to be a great back-and-forth fight.
A lightweight fight between No. 9 ranked Michael Chiesa and No. 12 Anthony Pettis will also be on the main card. This fight was originally supposed to take place at UFC 223, but facial lacerations due to the infamous Conor McGregor bus attack forced Chiesa out of the fight.
Chiesa hasn’t fought in more than a year, and he’ll attempt to rebound from a first-round submission loss to Kevin Lee in June 2017. Prior to the loss, Chiesa had won three straight fights. Pettis is a former lightweight champion, but is 2-5 in his last seven fights. His last fight was a loss to Dustin Poirier by third-round TKO in November.
Rounding out the main card will be a light heavyweight fight between kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki and Khalil Rountree Jr. This fight was originally supposed to take place at UFC 219, but a leg injury forced Saki to pull out of the fight. Saki made his debut in September and defeated Henrique da Silva by first-round TKO. Rountree is 2-3 in the UFC, but he showed tremendous knockout power and speed in his two wins. He’ll try to rebound from a decision loss to Michal Oleksiejczuk in December. A win for either fighter would be their coming out party in the light heavyweight division.
Middleweight fight - No. 9 Uriah Hall vs. No. 10 Paulo Costa
This fight was originally supposed to happen at UFC Fight Night in April, but an injury forced Costa to pull out of the fight. Costa is 3-0 in the UFC with all three wins coming by knockout. Hall is 1-3 in his last four fights, but he’s coming off a second-round TKO of Krzysztof Jotko in September.
Bantamweight fight - No. 3 Raphael Assuncao vs. No. 11 Rob Font
Assuncao is 10-2 in the UFC with his last loss coming at the hands of champion TJ Dillashaw in 2016. He’s riding a three-fight winning streak and is hoping a fourth will earn him a title shot. Font is 5-2 in the UFC and coming off a second-round TKO of Thomas Almeida at UFC 220 in January.
Welterweight fight - Curtis Millender vs. Max Griffin
Millender made his UFC debut in February, defeating Thiago Alves by second-round TKO. Griffin is 2-2 in the UFC, most recently defeating Mike Perry by unanimous decision in February.
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Lightweight fight - Dan Hooker vs. Gilbert Burns
Lightweight fight - Lando Vannata vs. Drakkar Klose
Strawweight fight - Jamie Moyle vs. Emily Whitmire
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