Daniel Cormier’s goal heading into the main event of last night’s UFC 252 pay-per-view card was to defeat Stipe Miocic for the second time, regain the UFC heavyweight title and retire as a UFC champion. Cormier did not achieve those goals. Instead, he watched as Miocic’s hand was raised in victory. Like his NCAA wrestling career and his Olympic wrestling career, Cormier left MMA with a loss.
The first meeting between these two took place at UFC 226. Cormier ended Miocic’s first heavyweight title reign with a first-round knockout win. Miocic came back at UFC 241 and stopped Cormier in the fourth stanza. UFC 252 was the third meeting between the two competitors and according to Cormier, it was to be his final MMA outing.
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Both men made adjustments from their second meeting. Cormier did not take Miocic’s striking lightly and he used better defense. The former two-division champion also managed his energy much better at UFC 252. Miocic was more active from the start of the bout and did a good job with his clinch work. He also actively circled away from the power of Cormier’s hands. Even with that, Cormier did hurt Miocic late in the first round.
Miocic returned the favor late in the second when he dropped Cormier with 10 seconds left in the round.
What stood out during the trilogy bout was Miocic’s corner. They shouted instructions to their fighter for the full 25 minutes. They gave him reminders of their game plan and made sure he listened to them and followed that plan. When Miocic deviated from that plan, cries would come from the red corner to adjust and focus. I believe the coaching and Miocic’s willingness to trust in that coaching was what made the difference in this fight.
Miocic walked away from last night’s UFC 252 fight card as the champion, but Cormier, if he does leave the fight game, has nothing to be ashamed about. He achieved some incredible highs during his career and even though he didn’t get the fairy tale ending he wanted, he was a two-division UFC champion and that’s not something many fighters can lay claim to.
UFC 252 took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The pay-per-view card streamed on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
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