When you think of all-time great heavyweight mixed martial artists, two names are cemented at the top of the Heavyweight Mount Rushmore: Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.
While most people would notably remember Daniel “DC” Cormier for his championship runs at light heavyweight, it was heavyweight where he would start his career.
He debuted as a professional martial artist as a heavyweight for Strikeforce, winning two fights back to back with strikes. He’d go on to claim a pair of world titles, A King Of The Cage heavyweight title and a XMMA title before returning to Strikeforce.
In his second run with Strikeforce, Cormier would be named an alternate for the Heavyweight Grand Prix, which featured heavyweight legends and superstars such as Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett.
Cormier would win his reserve bout over Jeff Monson by decision and then would replace Overeem in the Grand Prix semi-finals against Big Foot Silva who was coming off a second round TKO of Fedor.
Cormier would batter Silva winning by first round TKO and would march to the finals where he would rag-doll Josh Barnett for five rounds to become the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion.
After the UFC-Strikeforce merger in 2013, Cormier would jump over to the UFC and would fight two more times at heavyweight, this time under the UFC banner before making the cut to light heavyweight and embarking on a title run.
He’d fall short to pound-for-pound star and Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones via Unanimous Decision. As fate would have it, DC’s next battle would again be for the light heavyweight title, now vacated, where he would capture it in the 3rd round over power-puncher Anthony Johnson. This win would take solidify his legacy as champion.
After going 4-0, 1 NC while holding on to the Light Heavyweight title, Cormier would attempt to further solidify his GOAT status by competing for another belt: the UFC Heavyweight Championship; held around the waist of none other than the baddest man on the planet: Stipe Miocic.
Stipe’s run in the UFC has been nothing short of spectacular. A proud, Ohio born and bred fighter with a D-1 wrestling background on one hand and a golden gloves championship in the other. Stipe would enter the promotion a perfect 6-0 before winning his first three in the UFC before falling victim to 7-foot heavyweight prospect Stefan Struve by a lethal Superman punch in second round.
Stipe would recover and win his next three before dropping a decision loss to heavyweight staple Junior Dos Santos in a Fight of the Night performance.
The performance against JDS would launch Miocic to another level. After this fight he’d go on to win his next two by dominant finishes against big names Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski earning him an opportunity to fight then champion Fabricio Werdrum. Stipe would travel to Werdrum’s home of Curitiba, Brazil to dethrone the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard in just two and a half minutes.
The now World Champion would go on to defend the crown by picking up a first round KO over legend Alistair Overeem followed by earning revenge over Junior Dos Santos; this time, earning the win by first round TKO.
Miocic would then be faced with a new challenge: the most feared man in the heavyweight division and the hardest hitter in the UFC: Francis Ngannou. Stipe would go on to dominantly defeat Ngannou establishing himself as possibly the best Heavyweight Champion in UFC’s storied heavyweight history.
Miocic’s championship run was nothing short of incredible and he truly looked unstoppable. Therefore, the fight was set for July 7th, 2018…Champion vs Champion; Great vs Great. Two Hall of Famers clashing with a potential GOAT status on the line.
Stipe Miocic would defend his Heavyweight title against then Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier.
It headlined a stacked card and was set to determine “The Greatest” heavyweight of all-time. As fate would have it, it only took DC one round to cement himself in double champ history.
Daniel Cormier’s deadly clinch strikes would catch Stipe with a thundering right hook that would set the Ohio native down. Daniel said earlier in the week, “I’ll win and never be forgotten,” when talking about the fight and his double champ status. That night, he proved to be right.
A common theme among dominant champions is how quickly they tend to get rematches. Anderson Silva got his rematch against Weidman, Jose Aldo got his rematch against Holloway, and now Stipe would get his against Daniel Cormier. The rematch between the two was set for just a little over a year from their previous match-up on August 17th, 2019.
Cormier had went on to defend his newly captured Heavyweight gold and had vacated his Light Heavyweight belt in the meantime. Stipe was coming back after more than a year on the sidelines.
A father, husband and volunteer firefighter, Miocic took the time, healed his body and prepared it for another war against DC.
The rematch started the way the first affair had ended. DC was leading the dance with his strikes and was taking and holding Miocic down with ease. Stipe lost the first two rounds undoubtedly, the third being a bit of a toss up.
Miocic was gaining momentum though, and gaining it quick.
In the fourth round he would make an adjustment with a minute left that would win him the fight: body strikes.
Miocic would repeatedly pepper hooks to the liver, getting Daniel to cover his body and open his head, where Stipe was landing strikes consistently. It was this adjustment that he would use to drop and finish Cormier on the ground, recapturing his title in the process.
A heartbroken Cormier would quickly speak about wanting a rematch: a trilogy to determine who the All-Time Greatest Heavyweight is. Stipe would, of course, accept.
This Saturday, August 15th, will be two days shy of a year since their last encounter.
If Cormier can bounce back and avenge his most recent loss, he can end his MMA career as the greatest heavyweight of all-time. One can make the argument maybe the greatest fighter of all-time.
Notable wins over Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Derrick Lewis and what would be a second win over Miocic can certainly cement him on the Heavyweight MMA Mount Rushmore not to mention he simultaneously held both the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight title; the only fighter to ever accomplish this .
On the other hand, if Miocic can get past DC a second time and hold onto his title, his resume will include the likes of Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Francis Ngannou and second win over Cormier. The same statement can be made for him.
Two of the baddest men on the planet will conclude a trilogy that not only has a world championship at stake, but the ultimate bragging rights as well.
Both men wanting to attain heavyweight GOAT status while also ending their respective careers as a champion.
It’s been no secret Daniel Cormier has plans to retire after Saturday. It’s been speculated that Stipe might have the same intentions.
Either way this fight goes, the fight itself should be an absolute banger. Both men come into the cage with multiple Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses. Four of both Stipe and Cormier’s last five fights have ended before the final bell.
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier will be held at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday August 15th. More than a World Title, the winner of Miocic-Cormier III will determine who is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history.
UFC 252 Main Card (Begins 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+):
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier
Sean O’Malley vs Marlon “Chito” Vera
Junior Dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
John Dodson vs Merab Dvalishvili
Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba
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