Stipe Miocic is looking to bounce back and exact revenge against the man who viciously knocked him out to end his record-breaking run as UFC heavyweight champion. He’s looking to reunite himself with the title he once called his. And he’s looking to prove the doubters – and the oddsmakers – wrong.
Miocic is an 11/10 underdog to defeat reigning UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in the main event in Anaheim this weekend, and all the pieces appear to be in place for him to score the victory he so desperately needs.
Cormier, by his own timetable from last year, should be retired already. The former US wrestling Olympian and ex-light heavyweight champ had vowed to retire on his 40th birthday in March this year.
The desire to compete has seen him continue with his career, but it feels like this weekend’s fight with Miocic was one he HAD to take, rather than one he really wanted.
He had hoped to face WWE superstar and former UFC champ Brock Lesnar, but when that possibility fell by the wayside, Miocic was the only feasible option.
And after his surprise first-round finish of Miocic in their first meeting, it seems highly unlikely he will be able to match that performance.
Miocic has motivation on his side, as well as the knowledge that he made a crucial tactical error in the first fight. If he closes that loophole, manages the fight from range and keeps his defence tight in the clinch, he has the size, the takedown defence and the power to give Cormier a LOT of problems.
If he finds a home for his own sledgehammer-like punches, even the super-durable Cormier will start to feel Miocic’s power.
And with the constant chatter about a third fight between Cormier and his nemesis Jon Jones figuring heavily during fight week, it seems like the scene could be set for an upset victory as Miocic reclaims his spot on the heavyweight throne.
In the open workout scrum before their first fight, Cormier told us that the only way Miocic could defeat him was by knockout – and I tend to agree.
But that’s also how I believe the fight will go down on Saturday night, with Miocic keeping the fight standing and punishing Cormier as he looks to close the distance.
PETTIS TO SPOIL DIAZ’S RETURN
While the heavyweight title fight in the main event is undeniably a huge contest, the return of Nate Diaz in the co-main event has threatened to steal the show during fight week.
He showed up at the open workouts and lit up a CBD joint before passing it around the crowd, as the returning star and rival of Conor McGregor has raised the excitement level ahead of Saturday night’s event.
But Diaz’s return may not go quite according to plan, because he’s fighting a fit, firing and in-form Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.
The former UFC lightweight champion remains one of the most exciting, spectacular fighters in the UFC, and he showed he can be a real factor at welterweight after moving up a division and handing Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson the first knockout loss of his career.
Now Pettis faces Diaz in Anaheim, and the former champion is the justifiable betting favorite in their matchup.
He’s been more active, he’s fought and won at world championship level and he appears to have the skillset to surpass Diaz on fight night.
Expect a spectacular contest, with Pettis claiming the win, most likely on the scorecards.
ROMERO TO OVERPOWER COSTA
The third fight from the top of the UFC 241 card has fans salivating in expectation as two of the most powerful middleweight athletes in the world go head to head.
Paulo “The Eraser” Costa looks like an action figure, and fights like a wild man. It’s a style that has seen him demolish his opposition as he has risen from eye-catching prospect to fringe contender at 185 pounds.
Now he faces arguably the most talented pure athlete in the middleweight division. Former Olympic wrestler and UFC powerhouse Yoel Romero is a truly terrifying prospect when he’s on form, and he has the game – and the power – to hand Costa the first defeat of his MMA career. Just ask former world champion Luke Rockhold…
Costa has looked impressive so far, but against Romero he’s making a huge step up in competition – the Cuban dropped reigning middleweight champ Robert Whittaker on multiple occasions in a fight some believe he won at UFC 225..
Now he will look to make an example of Costa who has attempted to trash talk the Cuban in the lead-up to the contest. That may come back to bite him on fight night. Expect violence, and a stoppage win for “The Soldier of God”.