UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC 252 card, set to take place in Las Vegas.

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 • 9:40 AM ET

Stipe Miocic is looking to retain the UFC heavyweight championship.

One of the UFC’s most important fights of the year will take place this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. A trilogy fight for the heavyweight title between champion Stipe Miocic and No. 1 contender and former champion Daniel Cormier will main event UFC 252 this weekend. For the winner, the title of the greatest heavyweight of an era and perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time is up for grabs.

Miocic and Cormier last fought each other at UFC 241 a year ago with Miocic winning by fourth-round TKO. Miocic won the title back that Cormier took from him in shocking fashion at UFC 226 in 2018, avenging a bad, first-round knockout loss.

On paper, Miocic is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history, holding the record for the most consecutive title defenses with three. With a second win over Cormier, he can solidify his position as the greatest heavyweight of all time.

Including Cormier, the 37-year-old Miocic has key victories over Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, Mark Hunt, Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson. For arguably the most important fight of his career, Miocic is taking the same humble, blue-collar approach that he always does.

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"The fight's always on your mind,” Miocic said via Bleacher Report. “It can't help but be. But it doesn't consume me.

“I spend time with my family. I talk to my friends, my coaches. We play cards. We make it enjoyable. I love fighting, everything about it. And getting ready is just another part of the job that I look forward to."

Miocic knows he’s always in for a tough fight with Cormier.

"(Cormier's) a tough guy," he said. "You can't take that away from him. He's shown it.

“He's going to show up. He's going to be there. You have to be tougher than him to get the win. And I will do that."

The Cleveland native knows what this fight can do for the legacy he’ll leave behind for his daughter and family.

"That's the reason the legacy matters,” Miocic said. “That's why it's important. If she can look back at something in 20 years and see what it's possible to accomplish with hard work and dealing with adversity, that'd be great. Then it'll mean something even bigger."

Cormier is a former two-division champion and one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. Aside Miocic, the only other fighter to defeat him is Jon Jones, who many consider to be the greatest fighter of all time, regardless of weight. Just like Miocic, a win on Saturday can cement Cormier’s position as the greatest heavyweight of all time. While he doesn’t have the title defense record, two wins over the guy who has that record would certainly put him at the front of the pack.

Win or lose this weekend, the 41-year-old Cormier plans on retiring after the bout, saying he’s at peace with that decision.

“I feel confident in that,” Cormier told Yahoo Sports when asked if Saturday’s bout would be his last. “I feel good about it. I feel good about knowing I’ve done everything I need to do.

“I’ve got the most attractive fight out there for me, a third fight [with Miocic], a fight that matters and a fight that is for the heavyweight championship.”

Cormier has an impressive resume, highlighted by wins over Miocic, Derrick Lewis, Volkan Oezdemir, Anthony Johnson (twice), Anderson Silva, Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson, Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva.

While many fans and critics would love to see Cormier fight Jon Jones for a third time, it seems like one more fight with Miocic is enough to make the former Olympian hang up his gloves. It will be a sad day for MMA when Cormier officially retires, but fans will still be treated to his Hall of Fame worthy commentary during UFC broadcasts.

Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will be a bantamweight fight between rising star Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera.

Coming off a dynamic first-round knockout of Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 in June, the No. 14 ranked O’Malley is undefeated at 12-0. The win over Wineland was his biggest to date and landed him in the rankings, but Vera will undoubtedly be the 25-year-old’s biggest challenge so far.

Vera, currently unranked, feels a victory over O’Malley will change that fact.

“This is a fight that puts me close to the top five,” Vera said on Monday’s episode of “Hablemos MMA.” “We’ve seen fighters like Cody Garbrandt, who are coming off three defeats, beat someone who’s basically outside of the rankings like (Raphael) Assuncao, knocks him out, and gets in the top three above Pedro Munhoz, who knocked him out.

“So the rankings make no sense. But since this is a popularity contest, I beat the brat, and they have to put me in the top, so good for me.”

Vera is focused on fighting and not trash talk, despite the fact that his opponent is publicly overlooking him on social media.

“I couldn’t give a sh*t if he’s underestimating me or not,” Vera said. “I don’t care what he thinks or does. What does matter is that Saturday, he’s going to have me in front of him and not those idiots that are replying to him, giving him fame and credibility.

“If I’m on top, why am I going to be trash-talking someone below me? It doesn’t have logic. The champion, himself, is replying to him. People need to use their brain a little more, but it seems they’re stupid because if I’m the champion and someone in the top-15 is talking sh-t, I’m obviously going to keep an eye on him and be ready for him, but I’m not going to be replying to someone who’s far from fighting for the title. But to each to their own. Thanks to them for making this fight bigger for me.”

The 27-year-old Vera is 15-6-1 overall, but 5-1 in his last six fights. All of his losses have come by decision with 12 of his wins coming by finish. He is a dangerous opponent for anyone in the division and with a win over the hype train that is O’Malley, he’ll certainly have a number next to his name on Monday morning.

 

The rest of the UFC 252 card:

Heavyweight bout - No. 5 Junior dos Santos vs. No. 4 Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Bantamweight bout - No. 12 John Dodson vs. No. 15 Merab Dvalishvili

Light heavyweight bout - No. 14 Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba

Lightweight bout - Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel

Women’s strawweight bout - Ashley Yoder vs. Livinha Souza

Heavyweight bout - Chris Daukaus vs. Parker Porter

Women’s strawweight bout - No. 15 Felice Herrig vs. Virna Jandiroba

Featherweight bout - Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda

Featherweight bout - TJ Brown vs. Danny Chavez

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