At UFC 241 (which you can catch on ESPN +), Stipe Miocic will finally have his shot at redemption against the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. For more than a year, Miocic has had to sit idly as others have skipped the proverbial line, taking what Miocic assumed would be his immediate rematch. Cormier took a fight with Derrick Lewis on short notice in November and rumors swirled around a possible title match against the returning Brock Lesnar. But despite the noise, Miocic will walk into Anaheim, California, on August 17 with an opportunity to settle the score and ruin Cormier’s anticipated retirement tour.
Cormier originally planned to retire from MMA in April, when he turned 40 years old. But he stuck around in hopes of having one last super-fight against Lesnar. When that didn’t happen, he took the Miocic rematch. Despite facing off against one of the most decorated heavyweight fighters in UFC history, all that seems to be on Cormier’s mind is what happens next.
Should Cormier finish off Miocic, the current heavyweight champ seems destined for a third and final fight against Jon Jones. Cormier has fought Jones twice, losing via unanimous decision in 2015 at UFC 182, then getting knocked out in 2017 at UFC 214. That second loss was overturned to a “no contest” after Jones tested positive for a banned substance. He’s continued to have ‘adverse findings‘ in his drug testing in the years following his UFC return, but USADA ruled the small amount has no performance-enhancing benefit.
Just five days after Cormier’s rematch with Miocic was announced, the champ was already making plans for a third brawl with Jones, which many assume would ultimately be his retirement fight.
“It’s all I want,” Cormier said, per ESPN. “When I fight Jones, I feel most complete when I’m preparing for competition against that guy. It makes me train harder. It makes me train smarter. I do everything right in preparation, and I believe that if I do stick around that would be the fight that I do it for. It would be at 205 pounds because I need to go and get that back from him.”
Cormier isn’t just overlooking Miocic, he flat out doesn’t think he’s good enough to beat him. Cormier ended their first fight with a knockout in the first round. If Miocic is going to claim the belt from one of the best pound-for-pound fighters ever, he’s going to have to withstand a strong ground game and do what earned him a victory in five of his last seven fights: knock Cormier out. That’s easier said than done, as Cormier has only been KO’d once, in the loss to Jones that was eventually ruled a no contest.
“I understand that he’s going to be better, but I just, when I think about the fight and the little bit of time that we fought before, I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat me. I just don’t. I think he’s a good champion, I think he’s a good fighter, I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat me and whether it’s 25 minutes or two rounds, I’m still gonna win the fight,” Cormier said, per MMA Fighting.
Coming into the fight, Cormier’s been clear with his intentions. He’d like to fight one or two more times before hanging his gloves up for good. But that’s assuming everything goes well against Miocic. Should the record-holder in heavyweight title defenses claim the belt for his second reign, who knows what Cormier will opt to do. Miocic, for his part, plans to be the guy that sends Cormier riding off into the sunset.
“I’m going to be the guy (that retires him),” Miocic said in May on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
Click here to buy UFC 241 to watch Cormier – Miocic II. New ESPN+ subscribers can purchase a bundle that includes UFC 241 and a 1-year ESPN+ subscription for just $79.98 (over 25% off original price).