Stipe Miocic Reclaims UFC Heavyweight title in Fourth Round TKO of Cormier
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.
UFC 241 on ESPN+ PPV: Cormier vs. Miocic 2
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC 241 is set to take place on Saturday, August 17, 2019 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will be available for purchase on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). On paper, this event is going to be one of the best fight cards of the year, featuring a rematch in the main event between UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former reigning UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. The co-main event will feature the return of Conor McGregor nemesis Nate Diaz vs. former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in a welterweight showcase. The card will also include the long-awaited clash between middleweight titan Yoel Romero and the bruising Paulo Costa in what should prove to be a pivotal middleweight showdown.
The real question on everyone’s mind coming into UFC 241 is how Stipe Miocic is going to rebound coming off a loss by knockout to the man who took his title just over a year ago at UFC 226 in Daniel Cormier. Miocic had captured the belt against former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum, defending the title a record three consecutive times before losing to Cormier in mid-2018. Since that time, Miocic has begrudgingly sat out from competition awaiting a rematch while Cormier successfully defended the title at UFC 230 against challenger Derrick Lewis.
UFC 241 Stipe vs. Cormier 2 has been such an anticipated UFC event that fans on social media virtually overlooked last week’s UFC Fight Night 156 Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2 card, with the mixed martial arts Twitter communities’ timelines spammed with UFC 241 promotional material well ahead of the Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2 showdown. A curious phenomenon to consider from a community who by in large prides itself on being the antithesis to the dreaded “casual fan” stigma so often tossed around by today’s new generation of fans.
Which begs the question, exactly who is behind some of these social media accounts and just how devoted to the sport are they, really? One would think their free promotional work, based at the grassroots level of mixed martial arts fandom would be devoting their promo efforts to Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche instead of overlooking these accomplished warriors completely in light of next weekend’s event. Casuals … aren’t we all, though?
At UFC 241 in July of 2018, Stipe Miocic stood 6-foot-4 and weighed in at 242.5 pounds in his first match against Cormier that ended in disaster for Miocic and put Cormier firmly in the driver’s seat as one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history.
The then challenger, Daniel Cormier came in at 5-foot-11 and weighed 246 pounds as the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion. When the bell sounded for round one, the two fighters casually met in the center of the Octagon, their gloves touching in one final show of respect before the champions got to work. The two would begin circling each other in the cage, the feeling out process underway as Miocic slowly began to cut off the cage by walking Cormier down.
Nearly from the start, Cormier looked to work the over hook in the clinch, a dangerous technique UFC legend Randy Couture used to great effect throughout his storied mixed martial arts career. The fight would soon make its way to the fence, with Miocic surprisingly trapping the former two-time Olympic wrestler against the cage in a show of strength and dominance not generally seen from opponents in a Daniel Cormier fight.
Its around this time Cormier noticeably switched to using an open gloved approach after fighting his way out of the clinch with Stipe. When a fighter’s fingers become extended, as opposed to closed in a clinched fist, the risk of accidentally or otherwise eye-gouging an opponent increases exponentially; a technique that has long since been prohibited in mixed martial arts competition though justifiably receiving renewed scrutiny in recent years.
The fighters would make their way to middle of the cage with Stipe noticeably getting the better of the striking exchanges early on. With some spunk still left in him, Cormier began to fire back on Miocic before his opened gloved approach brought a halt to the action from referee Marc Goddard. An instant replay would show Cormier lunging at Stipe with an open-handed strike resulting in his fingers raking into Miocic’s eye. This was a turning point in the fight where everything began to go wrong for the now former reigning UFC heavyweight champion.
Mentally, Stipe appeared to be out of the fight, his rhythm broken. Cormier would immediately begin to turn the fight around, looking quite a bit better in the standup department after the referee break in the action. Clinching up with Miocic, Cormier would expertly switch from an over hook used to control Stipe’s head and posture to an under hook, freezing Miocic and preventing him from escape as Cormier bombed Stipe with a right hand into unconsciousness. Referee Marc Goddard rushed in to save Miocic from any further damage as Daniel Cormier became both the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champions of the world, cementing his place among the sports all-time greats in the process.
With Miocic well in control of the Cormier fight until he wasn’t, baring a quick finish from the AKA representative early on in the rematch things will likely begin to unfold in a similar fashion this time around as well too. While anything can and does happen in mixed martial arts, if the first fight is any indication of how the second fight will play out we can expect Miocic to get the better of Cormier from early on, the only question being how much dog is left in the 40-year old UFC HW champion to game plan his way to victory once again. Cormier is an intelligent fighter, not one simply prone to operate on instinct and overdrive, there is a method to his madness. An outstanding wrestler with a will to win, Cormier may once again reach deep into his offensive playbook and put the mixed back into mixed martial arts.
Jon Jones Unwilling to Concede Size, Strength Advantage to Cormier at Heavyweight
By: Jesse Donathan
In a May 14, 2019 MMAnews.com article titled, “Jon Jones Reveals Why He’s Not Moving Up to Heavyweight to Fight Daniel Cormier,” author Damon Martin writes, “Jon Jones may not like Daniel Cormier very much but he’s smart enough to respect his skills.” According to Martin, Jones realizes Daniel Cormier would have the advantage at heavyweight and refuses to concede ground to the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
“I’m a realist. Daniel Cormier’s a special athlete and everyone can be beat and I think my greatest fear would be losing to a guy like Daniel Cormier with giving him a power and strength advantage over me,” Jones said when speaking to UFC color commentator Dan Hardy. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Jones and Cormier have a storied history together, with the two first having met in the Octagon in early 2015 at UFC 182, a fight Jones won by unanimous decision. According to a July 7, 2016 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Opinion – Don’t cry for Jon Jones: Canceled UFC 200 main event is Daniel Cormier’s loss,” author Connor Ruebusch wrote:
“Jones had beaten Cormier once before, in January of 2015. It was shortly after that win, arguably the greatest of his career, that Jones’ world began to crumble. News of Jones’ cocaine habit emerged just days after the Cormier fight. Those same tests revealed that the champion also showed suspicious hormone levels that may or may not have indicated steroid use.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported in, “A Closer Look at Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports,” not only did Jones show, “suspicious hormone levels,” but Daniel Cormier himself was well below the average 1:1 testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio considered the benchmark medical standard for normal.
Ariel Helwani wrote in his January 8, 2015 MMAfighting.com article titled, “Nevada Athletic Commission head: Jon Jones’ testosterone clean prior to UFC 182; carbon isotope ratio test conducted,” that the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier passed both of his USADA administered tests in the lead up to the fight, writing, “Cormier, Jones’ opponent at UFC 182, had a T/E ratio of .4 on Dec. 2 and .48 on Dec. 17. Cormier passed both those tests.” Comparatively, according to MMAfighting.com, “some have pointed to Jones’ testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in the three tests made public this week as a cause for concern.
According to Helwani, “On Dec. 4, Jones’ T/E ratios came up as .29 and .35. Jones actually took two drug tests that day because, according to Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett, his first urine sample was “watery.” On Dec. 18, his T/E ratio came up as .19. Clearly, all three ratios were below that of the average male.”
So, while Jones is unwilling to concede a strength and size advantage to Cormier at heavyweight, the truth is he was unwilling to do so at light heavyweight as well. Consistently testing positive for banned, prohibited substances throughout his tenure as perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. But if, “all three ratios were below that of the average male,” as reported by MMAFighting.com and, “some have pointed to Jones’s T/E ratio in the three tests made public this week as cause for concern,” then Cormier’s hormone levels were also, “cause for concern.” With Cormier testing out at .40 and .48 T/E in comparison to the normal 1:1 ratio. The only difference between Jones and Cormier’s test results being that Jones’s results were more concerning.
There is a mass psychosis in professional sports, where the perpetually naïve fans operate under the paradigm that the vast majority of professional athletes are clean, free of prohibited drug use and abuse. And when an athlete does pop positive for a banned substance, they are the black sheep of the organization, cheaters that somehow undermined the sanctity of their prohibited, banned substance free sport that surely must exist. Yet, time and time again, athletes across the board in competitive sports test positive one by one for banned, prohibited substance. Somehow though, the paradigm never changes that the sporting industry remains free of drug use and its only the bad apples spoiling the entire batch for everyone else.
In an August 11, 2008 spiegel.de interview with former Marion Jones coach Angel Heredia titled, “The Dealer Olympias,” Spiegel would ask Heredia if he was going to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic 100-meter final. “Of course,” Heredia replied before continuing, “but the winner will not be clean. Not even any of the contestants will be clean.” According to Spiegel, “Of eight runners,” in an open-ended question to Heredia, “eight will be doped,” in Heredia’s estimation. Yet, time and time again fans, pundits and various organizations and associations alike perpetuate the myth of a clean sporting event.
And within this mass psychosis, is the mechanism itself that allows other athletes to fly under the radar. As long as everyone thinks its only the guys who get caught that are cheating, it allows the other athletes who are fortunate enough not to get caught to reap the rewards of their own performance enhancing drug use despite the fact deep down inside, when the fears of legal repercussions and politically correct based peer pressure recede; all but the most naïve among us know the real truth yet we still dwell in the fantasy rainbows, unicorns and lollipop fantasy based mass psychosis of a clean field of play.
According to an August 12, 2009 mmajunkie.com article titled, “U.S. Olympic wrestling team captain Daniel Cormier announces move to MMA,” it was reported that, “Cormier’s wrestling accomplishments are in no short supply.” MMAjunkie.com would go on to write that, “Daniel Cormier, a two-time Olympian and the U.S. squad’s 2008 Olympic team captain, was a two-time JUCO national champion and NCAA Division I runner-up at Oklahoma State University in 2001.”
Cormier is famously undefeated at heavyweight, having moved down to light heavyweight to avoid cramping teammate Cain Velasquez’s reign as UFC Heavyweight Champion in an honorable display of friendship, respect and loyalty to someone who welcomed Cormier with open arms to the American Kicking Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. Today, Velasquez is quite a long way away from another UFC heavyweight title shot and according to Cormier himself, his own career is nearing its completion.
While admirable, I always thought Cormier’s move to light heavyweight was a mistake. While I was sure he would be successful there, and barring two fights with a performance enhancing drug using Jon Jones, he was, I see no reason for Cormier to fight Jon Jones at light heavyweight again.
Cormier was and still is undefeated at heavyweight, the only two blemishes on his professional mixed martial arts career are to an asterisks Jon Jones. Cormier is in the driver’s seat here, not Jon Jones. If they are to fight again, the only weight class I am interested in seeing the fight take place is at heavyweight. And if Jones’ is unwilling to concede a size and strength advantage to Cormier, despite Cormier doing exactly that not once, but twice against a performance enhanced Jon Jones, then I do not really see a reason to continue talking about this fight beyond the fact the UFC would surely like to make it happen one way or another.