One of the biggest fights of the year will go down later tonight (Sat., July 7, 2018) at UFC 226 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, as undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic puts his title on the line opposite light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier.
It’s a massive fight to say the least. Not only is Cormier looking to become just the second fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold belts in two different weight classes, but Miocic is aiming to extend his own record of consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses to a whopping four.
In preparation for the main event clash, take a look at what both Miocic and Cormier need to do later this evening at UFC 226 to walk away victorious.
1. Utilize his athleticism…
While Cormier is one hell of an athlete who continuously shatters expectations for a 39-year-old, Miocic is the better all-around athlete. He’s bigger, faster, possesses outstanding lateral movement, and is lighter on his feet.
Miocic should be able to leverage a lot of his physical capabilities against a smaller and stockier challenger like Cormier. This includes explosive combinations on the feet, spacing for takedown defenses, and quick movement to avoid counter shots. Of course, the heavyweight champ will also be able to lean on his speed and range to land offense from distance.
There may come a time when Miocic has to use his athleticism to buck Cormier off of him so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
2. Return the favor inside…
Miocic is a very well-rounded fighter. He may not display a ton of versatility inside of the cage, due in part to having such success with his hands, but he’s a sound grappler with strong wrestling skills and good submission defense.
That said, Miocic is likely going to have to defend inside the clinch against Cormier later tonight. Cormier is a chest-to-chest fighter who enjoys sapping the energy of out of his opponents. In the past, “DC” has done this by trapping fighters in the clinch, launching heavy uppercuts and body shots, and wilting them from the inside out.
Miocic must make Cormier pay if the two enter such a scenario. If he can mix in some knees and short elbows it could be enough to separate himself from Cormier’s clutch.
1. Close the distance early…
Cormier may have fought at heavyweight before and may have the UFC’s 205-pound title wrapped around his waist, but he really isn’t a physically intimidating fighter. Instead, Cormier uses his high motor, elite grappling skills, and granite chin to push forward and grind opponents away.
In the past, Cormier has been able to accomplish this and make up for a lack in size by closing distance on the feet and attacking inside. He did it against Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Those fights obviously had mixed results, but “DC” showed an ability to effectively engage taller and rangier opponents on the feet.
He will have to do something similar later this evening to take away Miocic’s strongest attribute — his striking — and take control of this fight.
2. Establish control…
Speaking of control, Cormier needs all of it. He’s the type of fighter who feeds off of being in command and dictating what’s transpiring inside of the cage. That’s probably why he had such difficulty against an alpha opponent like Jones.
Unfortunately for Cormier, Miocic is another alpha opponent. The UFC heavyweight champion is usually in control of his fights and leads the dance to his liking. That could cause a problem when the two pressure cookers step inside of the Octagon this evening in Las Vegas.
In order to give Miocic a run for his money and to give himself the best chance to capture the heavyweight title, Cormier must do everything he can to take control early. Whether that’s on the feet with inside strikes or on the ground with wrestling and submission attempts, “DC” needs to turn Miocic into a reactionary fighter at UFC 226.
Prediction: Miocic via split decision
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 226 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.