If Daniel Cormier’s next opponent were Brock Lesnar, we would probably all tune in, cries of outrage not-withstanding.
It’s the After Eight mint at 9:30 pm on Christmas Day – there’s no need for it, and on any other day of the year it wouldn’t be considered – but as it’s there, someone’s going to eat it and presumably enjoy it to some degree.
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Mercifully, that’s not the case. But the booking of Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic 2 offers its own divisive narrative – what’s different from the last time?
A lot of media’s leading voices say, ‘nothing.’ After all, both men enjoyed healthy, extended training camps for the first outing and are naturally pre-disposed to the weight class – it was simply a case of Cormier being ‘better on the night.’
That’s an awkward pill to swallow, especially for Miocic fans. In the two years prior, no one – from jiu-jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum to knock-out leviathans Alastair Overeem and Francis Ngannou – had been ‘better on the night.’ Cormier besting Miocic, in the way that he did, cements him in a lot of people’s eyes as the greatest heavyweight the sport has ever seen. On August 17, if he does it again, he’ll surely convert the rest.
If Stipe wins, a sort of ‘order’ will be restored, in the sense of what we became accustomed to seeing. Cormier’s status as a legend of the sport won’t be in question, but the title of heavyweight GOAT certainly would be. That begs the question, would he call for heavyweight immortality and a third rematch or invite Jon Jones for one last dance?
If anything, this fight is an orchestral overture for the remainder of the two men’s careers. At the end of it, we’ll probably have an idea of how the rest of their careers could look.
What do their colleagues have to say about it?
It seems like a fairly even split. In recent interviews, UFC welterweight Leon Edwards – a former training partner of Cormier – is unsurprisingly in the champion’s corner for this one. His former classmates, light heavyweights Aleksandar Rakic, Ilir Latifi, and Anthony Smith are all going Miocic, and the only one of the group to actually face Cormier, Volkan Oezdemir, opts for his former foe.
Retired (or not so retired?) UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafson pleads the fifth on this one, conditioning being everything by his estimation.
But now the man to whom DC has played disgruntled +1 on multiple occasions, Jon Jones has weighed in and, with respect to Jones, continues his praise of Cormier’s heavyweight capabilities.
“I think Stipe will put up a better fight, but I do think ‘DC’ will win again.” he told BT Sport earlier this year.
“‘DC’ is an extraordinary athlete. His flexibility and his speed for the way he’s built doesn’t really make sense — even his endurance for the way he’s built. He’s a special athlete. I don’t think most guys will beat ‘DC.’ The way to beat ‘DC’ is just to catch him with a knockout shot, which Stipe has the power to do. The question is, can he land it? I think ‘DC’ is smart; he’s gonna use his wrestling and wit to find a way to win again.”
The long tease for Cormier vs. Jones III, waxing and waning for months on end, would finally become too large and requited to ignore should Cormier emerge victorious on August 14. Jones continues to run roughshod over light heavyweight and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon and, despite having expressed interest in facing both Miocic and DC at heavyweight, the drama of the last six years has been building to one fight and one fight only.
For Cleveland’s own, it’s all on the line on August 14 at UFC 241. Cormier will likely have a chance to settle his biggest demons, Stipe may not.
Rhodri Morgan is a combat sports writer based out of London, England. When not covering MMA, he can be found roaming the halls of a south London Wholefoods, finding a dog to befriend and rolling in the doomed pursuit of the perfect kimura.