At UFC 241, one of the biggest Heavyweight rematches in mixed martial arts history takes place as Daniel “DC” Cormier will defend his UFC Heavyweight title for a second time against former champion Stipe Miocic.
These two men first met infamously at UFC 230 in the summer of 2018. Cormier would shock the world with a first round knockout over one of the most accomplished Heavyweight champions in recent memory.
Miocic by that point had defended the title three separate times, a divisional record, against the likes of Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou.
During the first bout, both fighters landed decent shots during the striking stage show while Miocic even garnered a takedown over the former Olympian. Most fight or fighter breakdowns predicted heavily that Cormier would likely implement a more grappling based game plan in order to win and to a degree they were correct. Cormier would find the bulk of his offense inside the clinch, as DC would often look to tie up with Miocic and land shots on the inside. This would lead to the finishing blow as the clinch encounter of the night would see Cormier land a right overhand inside the clinch would knock Mioicic down en route to the knockout finish.
Miocic would opt out of any fight contest since then, relaying to the promotion and the fans that his time as Heavyweight king had earned him a rematch against the former Light Heavyweight champion. Whether that is true or not is moot as waiting out seems to have earned Stipe his desired rematch despite Cormier defending the title inbetween their two contests.
Oddsmakers have this contest even more narrow than before but with a slightly more interesting twist. Going into their first bout, Cormier was the underdog. Now wearing the strap himself, the Louisiana native finds himself the slight favorite over Miocic.
With the heavy cloud of Cormier’s potential retirement looming over this bout, it begs the question what else is at stake in this fight, other than the obvious being the most coveted title in mixed martial arts. Legacy has played a large factor into Cormier’s public disconcert over whether to walk away from the sport this year or not, something that could almost be laughable considering what Cormier accomplished in 2018 at age 39.
Arguably his best year as a professional mixed martial artist, Cormier defended both the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight titles alongside the Miocic upset, thus securing his slot as a “champ champ” while also making the first man to pull off such a feat. Cormier also, to this day, remains undefeated at Heavyweight with notable wins over Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Josh Barnett, and Derrick Lewis. And that is just at Heavyweight. In the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division Cormier garnered arguably even more impressive wins over the likes of Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva, Alexander Gustaffson and Anthony Johnson.
Miocic himself has already garnered a career worthy of the Hall of Fame someday. With a 12-3 record inside the octagon, Miocic holds memorable victories over such names as Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt, and his title winning first round knockout over Fabricio Werdum in Brazil.
With such storied careers converging a second time a round, more than just a belt is at stake. Glory the likes of which few fighters see is also within reach for both men come UFC 241. Miocic, in a desperate attempt to validate his run as a Heavyweight champion needs to defeat the man who took the title from him in order to solidify his name among the elite of his divisions history. Cormier, with his legendary rivalry against Jon Jones forever a stable in his careers storied history, needs a send off worthy of a legend and defeating one of the most successful Heavyweight champions of his era could give him career the proper cornerstone it requires so that Cormier can walk away from the game without regret.
Come Saturday at UFC 241, fight fans, please believe that the UFC Heavyweight title is only a formality when both fighters step into that cage. For so much more of a sightless prize will be up for grabs.