UFC 226: Super Fight


Last Saturday was a big, big night. UFC can make a huge bang, especially when the mood takes it. And the mood certainly took it at UFC 226. A super night that culminated in a super fight. The night that saw a new UFC heavyweight champion being crowned. This is an event by any standards usually, but when the victor is one from a lighter division, it’s only that more explosive. July 7th, 2018 will go down in history as the day Daniel Cormier joined the ranks of those select few who won two UFC divisions.

I watched the whole event with Spectrum Pay-per-View, which had me glued to the screen all night. The whole night, with the possible exception of the strange bout between Lewis and Ngannou, was eventful. But the real attraction was the super fight between two of the heaviest divisions in UFC. Stipe Miocic put his heavyweight championship on the line against the reigning light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. And what a fight it was!

Heavyweight vs Light Heavyweight

To begin with, the odds were in Miocic’s favor. This was partly due to the obvious five-inch height advantage as well as his good fighting acumen. The prize was Miocic’s heavyweight title. Cormier didn’t put his light heavyweight title on the line, but he definitely moved up a weight class.

That’s enough risk to fill anyone’s stomach. And with good reason. Plenty of fighters have felt confident enough to move up a division, only to face disastrous consequences. Not everyone is equipped to face height, weight and reach advantage, no matter how good in the cage.

In fact, UFC history has a very short list of 5 men who rose to the top of 2 division. They include greats like Randy Couture, BJ Penn, The Notorious Connor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre and now, Daniel Cormier. It was certainly a clash of two of the best warriors in UFC today. A super fight between two titans in their respective weight divisions. And what a fight it was.

A New Champ is Crowned

Daniel Cormier was already the reigning light heavyweight champion. Last Saturday night, he also became the UFC heavyweight champion after knocking out Stipe Miocic. The unexpected knock out came in the closing minute of the first round in spectacular fashion. Miocic’s fighting base is primarily boxing, which works well considering his big frame and punching accuracy.

Cormier, on the other hand, is a former Olympic fighter, with a significant size disadvantage in this fight. Miocic was pegged as the expected winner, but Cormier had a different outcome in mind. For the first four minutes of the match, both men stuck to their bases. Miocic was looking to box, whereas Cormier was looking for a clinch.

There was a period of back-and-forth movement, both men sticking to their styles and feeling the other out. Cormier is ranked as the Number 3 fighter in USA TODAY and is the Number 2 ranked light heavyweight. He came to UFC 226 at his heaviest since 2013, the last time he had a victory in the heavyweight division. Miocic made to use his size advantage and keep his opponent on the mat.

When Cormier got up, the champ hit him with a knee, followed up with combinations. Cormier responded with counters and an uppercut, followed by an attack on the legs. There was an incident of eye-poking in one exchange which led to the referee warning, Cormier. Immediately after the restart, however, Cormier began to find his advantage.

He got the clinch he was looking for and went to his boxing tactics. On paper, Miocic is the better and more accurate boxer. But Cormier has been blessed with heavy bomber hands that can shake anybody and he knows how to use them. That’s what happened to Miocic in the final minute of Round 1. A well placed, short right hand to the face switched off the champs lights.

It was a perfectly timed, brutal punch that made it past Miocic’s guard and really rocked his head. A few more unanswered shots pasted Miocic’s head on the mat and it was all over for him. Cormier rose to join the ranks of the great few who have won titles in 2 divisions. And he did it with his much bigger opponent knocked out. The reigning heavyweight champion was K.O.d by the reigning lightweight champion in spectacular fashion. Watch on Freeform on DIRECTV

Cormier joined the class of the select few and he deserves his place there. One of the good guys of UFC and one of its greatest fighters, he cemented his place in UFC history. “I’m a two-division champion, baby!” said a visibly emotional and jubilant Cormier. Truly one of the sport’s greatest moments of skill trumping physical advantage.

Post-Fight Drama

Cormier is only the second man in UFC history to win two titles simultaneously, the first being Conor McGregor. Honestly, it is an enviable position to be in. But the drama doesn’t end there. In the post-fight celebration, Cormier called out WWE champion and UFC phenomenon Brock Lesnar. Lesnar obliged by promptly showing up and entering the cage.

What followed was a shoving match that can only be explained as a scripted episode, but it achieved its purpose. Lesnar has returned to the heel role he previously enjoyed at UFC and no MMA fan can honestly ignore a Cormier/Lesnar face off. Lesnar returns to UFC after a nasty USADA drug testing scandal that resulted in a two-year absence from the cage.

That does not, however, mean he has lost any of his stage presence or his form. Lesnar looks in particularly good shape as he ostensibly makes his move for a shot at Cormier’s heavyweight title. Cormier has momentum on his side after his triumph over the much bigger Miocic.

The trash talking between the two seemed a bit premeditated, but it has laid the stage for UFC 230. It depends on if all goes well with the ASADA modified 6 month waiting period. However, we may actually see Lesnar face off against Cormier at Madison Square Garden.


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