By: Jesse Donathan
Stipe Miocic is the new UFC heavyweight champion of the world, scoring a fourth-round technical knockout victory over Daniel Cormier at UFC 241 in the Honda Center of Anaheim, California Saturday night. The final volley an impressive display of pure boxing technique that left no doubt who the baddest man in the world truly is.
Cormier was supposed to be retired by now, having previously vowed to hang his gloves up by the age of 40 before somehow finding the inspiration to fight on. Prior to Saturday night, Cormier would have walked away from the sport the defending UFC heavyweight champion who had captured the title against the sports only three time defending UFC heavyweight champion in Stipe Miocic, while simultaneously having held the UFC light heavyweight title prior to relinquishing the belt at UFC 232 to his eventual successor Jon Jones.
Just after Cormier’s crushing defeat Saturday night, the longtime Cormier nemesis Jones, who has a storied history with the now former champion, took to social media to praise the victorious Miocic, stating, “Stipe is hands down the greatest heavyweight of all time. I have nothing else to say.” Apparently changing his mind, looking to kick Cormier whilst he is down, Jones would later going on to remark, “I guess losses don’t matter when you’re getting paid so much on the front end.”
The front end of course, an apparent response to an August 12, 2019 social media post from Cormier whom had stated, “Of course he (Jones) wants to fight me, he’s fought 3 times this year and I’m gonna make more this weekend than he will even if he fights again this year lmao. O, how times have changed!”
Cormier was reportedly paid $4 million dollars for his lone title defense against challenger Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in 2018 according to an MMAMania.com report, meaning even though Cormier sacrificed immense bragging rights and pride in defeat Saturday night the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) representative must feel he is well taken care of by the organization.
In an August 18, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “UFC 241 salaries: Stipe Miocic wins back heavyweight title, cashes biggest payday on entire card,” author Damon Martin writes, “Following a fourth-round knockout against Daniel Cormier in the main event, Miocic was paid an event high $750,000 according to salaries released by the California State Athletic Commission in a message to MMA Fighting on Sunday.” According to Martin, “Miocic didn’t receive a win bonus but rather a flat $750,000 fee while also taking home an additional $50,000 for ‘Performance of the Night’ for his stunning comeback victory to reclaim the UFC heavyweight title.”
Martin would go on to write, “Daniel Cormier left with the second biggest payday on the card as the now former heavyweight champion (and) was paid $500,000 as a flat fee for his performance.”
Incidentally, MMAFighting.com’s Damon Martin reported back in July of this year that Jones was set to receive an event high $500,000 for his split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239. With sponsorship opportunities inside the Octagon limited according to MMAFighting.com’s Marc Raimondi, Daniel Cormier may not be teaching Calculus anytime, but he is apparently bringing home the bacon. With both Jones and Cormier reportedly receiving $500,000 pay days at UFC 239 and UFC 241 respectively, Cormier’s algebraic expressions on social media are food for thought and unfortunately only leave more questions than answers.
The first round at UFC 241 Miocic vs. Cormier 2 started off with both fighters exchanging leg kicks, if it wasn’t for the fact the 5-foot-11 Cormier actually came into this fight six pounds heavier (236.5) than Stipe (230.5), I wouldn’t blame some fans from being under the mistaken impression the 6-foot-5 Miocic appeared to be the much bigger man in the Octagon. The fighters would exchange powerful leg kicks before Cormier fired off another leg kick that grazed Miocic’s cup, momentarily bringing a halt to the action as both fighters acknowledged the low blow in fair play by touching gloves.
In what was likely part of the game plan coming into the fight, Cormier would again return back to the leg kicks, scoring a powerful blow that noticeably buckled Miocic. Attempting to fight his way into the clinch, Cormier would lunge in with a failed attempted over hook, the same technique Daniel had chained together in finishing Miocic in their original matchup back in 2018. Unsuccessful as Miocic circled out, Cormier would club Stipe with a pair of hooks that got the firefighters attention.
Cormier would again hit with Miocic with a straight right that was all business before fighting for a single leg takedown attempt, eventually securing the hold and lifting Miocic up into the air, carrying the former heavyweight champions weight for 8-10 seconds before dumping Stipe to the mat and landing in dominant top position.
Immediately looking to improve his position to pound Miocic into unconsciousness, Stipe would grab Cormier’s wrists, two hands on Cormier’s one lone limb, stifling the champions ability to strike. Displaying his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu chops, Miocic would go on to make his way to guard, Cormier content to lay in top position pounding away at Stipe’s body as just over a minute remained in the round.
Cormier would work the body, occasionally mixing in head shots before eventually standing up and looking to attack, creating a scramble which enabled Miocic to make his way back to his knees, eventually standing himself before the bell sounding to mark the end of the first five minutes of action. It was a 10-9 round for Cormier in a high paced competitive fight that saw both fighters put in work as the end of the round drew to a close.
The second round would initially start off tentatively with both fighters exchanging leg kicks before Miocic began to open up with superior boxing technique against the American Kickboxing Academy representative, looking rather impressive in the stand-up department early on. The two would begin to open up, both fighters landing on one another in an entertaining affair that Stipe must have been getting the better of because out of nowhere Cormier lands an open gloved technique that raked Miocic’s eye, which referee Herb Dean apparently ruled legal, as he refused to intervene, the fight continuing despite Miocic being noticeably concerned with the apparent foul.
Upon instant replay, the technique appeared to be deliberate and with malicious intent, an attempt to eye gouge Miocic’s eye in a very reminiscent scene to their first encounter at UFC 226, which directly led to Miocic losing his title to Cormier by knockout.
Miocic appeared to even put his hand out in another good will gesture in acknowledgment of a foul, only to be answered with a stiff one, two for his efforts. With his back to the wall, Miocic would land an uppercut and fight his way out of a tight situation along the fence against a Daniel Cormier who was prepared to win at all costs.
The fighters would again begin to slug it out, the crowd noticeably enjoying the action in a competitive fight between the two elite heavyweights. The horn would sound to mark the end of the second round in a very entertaining main event showcase that saw Cormier edge Miocic in a close 10-9 round by my judges score card.
The third round would initially start off slow once again, reminiscent of the previous round, before Stipe would begin to touch Cormier up with well placed, surgically placed strikes. Cormier would again begin to advance with an open gloved approach on Miocic, at one point even drawing a warning from referee Dean about the seemingly on-going issue. Cormier would begin working the jab, scoring with alarming regularity and effectiveness, Miocic noticeably bothered by his right eye as he checked it mid-fight. With three minutes left in the third, Miocic would pin Cormier up against the cage for a meaningful period of time in a surprising show of physical dominance and wrestling ability. Eventually making their way off the fence, the fighters would duke it out along the perimeter of the cage.
With under a minute in the third, the fighters made their way to the center of the Octagon exchanging blows tit-for-tat, too exhausted to do much else but stand in front of one another and bang away. The horn would sound marking the end to another close five minutes of action, unfortunately for Miocic, perhaps another 10-9 round once again for Cormier.
If this wasn’t a five round championship fight, Daniel Cormier would have won a three round unanimous decision victory over Miocic, but unfortunately for the now former heavyweight champion it just wasn’t to be. Marking the start of the championship rounds in round four, Miocic would stalk Cormier around the outside of the cage before the predator-prey like scenario would momentarily switch roles with Cormier going on the hunt. Making their way back to the center of the Octagon, the action noticeably slowing from both fighters, the two would paw at each other throughout much of the round with Miocic looking to work the body on the tiring Cormier with repeated left hands that seemed to find their mark with increasing regularity.
Continuing to work the body and remaining elusive, seemingly finding his second wind, Stipe would begin to force Cormier to chase him around the Octagon. With Miocic’s superior conditioning beginning to shine through, his boxing technique appearing crisp and his legs fresh, Stipe would begin piecing the former two-time Olympian and UFC heavyweight champion up with skull numbing shots.
The end ultimately coming after another surgically placed left hook smashed into Cormier’s fire hydrant like body, followed up with a stinging one-two down the middle that found their mark. Miocic would turn the corner as Cormier was sent fleeing for safety, only to be trapped against the chain link fence with Stipe giving chase, sending the now former champion crashing to the canvas in a heil of punches. The referee, Herb Dean, rushing in to force a halt to the action before Cormier took any further damage. Miocic was the new heavyweight champion of the world, even dancing in a very Valentina Shevchenko like fashion in celebration of another impression performance by the most elite fighter in the UFC heavyweight division.
The main event at UFC 241 was a serious fist fight that saw Daniel Cormier bring everything and the kitchen sink into the Octagon in an effort to maintain his seat at the UFC heavyweight throne. A reality in combat sports, despite Cormier vs Miocic 2 being a highly competitive fight, there are inevitably going to be winners and losers. With the series tied at one win a piece, its not out of the question to suggest a rematch may be on the horizon despite Cormier taking note of his second career stoppage loss at the UFC 241 post-fight press conference in reflection of defeat. The option of hanging his gloves up for good and retiring clearly on the table.