Miocic and Cormier ready to square off at UFC 226
The UFC annually promises one of the biggest bouts of the year to top its International Fight Week event held in early July at T-Mobile Arena. The locally based mixed martial arts organization delivered in a major way for this year’s edition.
Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic headline the UFC 226 pay-per-view card on July 7 in a historic meeting between two champions.
It’s the first time in UFC history that the current light heavyweight belt-holder, Cormier, will challenge for the heavyweight title, which belongs to Miocic.
If Cormier wins, he’ll join Conor McGregor as the second fighter to ever simultaneously hold two championships in two different weight classes. Only three other fighters—Georges St-Pierre, B.J. Penn and Randy Couture—have ever won belts in more than one UFC weight class.
Miocic will be looking to add to history of his own. The 35-year-old broke the record for consecutive heavyweight title defenses with three, by beating Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision at UFC 220 in January.
Miocic actually entered the fight as an underdog, with many regarding the hard-hitting Ngannou as the future of the UFC’s biggest weight class. After such a monumental victory, a superfight with Cormier was arguably the only match where Miocic could increase the stakes.
Cormier was initially resistant to the fight, but came around to the idea after negotiating with the UFC and receiving the blessing of his teammate and former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. A belief that a victory over Miocic would put him in the conversation as the greatest fighter of all time also swayed Cormier.
The 39-year-old Cormier has put together a near-flawless fighting résumé in the decade since he decided to pursue mixed martial arts following his wrestling career. Cormier was an All-American and national runner-up wrestling at Oklahoma State in college, before making the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 as a member of the United States national team.
He won his first 15 fights before encountering rival Jon Jones in January 2015 to suffer what’s technically his only loss. Jones defeated Cormier again last July, but the result was overturned to a no contest after Jones tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Miocic has similarly only lost twice in the Octagon. He avenged his most recent loss, a controversial decision against Junior dos Santos in 2014, with a knockout last year.
Miocic also wrestled in college at Cleveland State, but is more known for his boxing. He was a Golden Gloves champion before crossing into mixed martial arts, where he knocked out five straight opponents to start his career.
He climbed the ranks while working part time as a firefighter in his native Cleveland, a job he enjoys so much that he still hasn’t given it up. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Miocic will have a size advantage, but it’s nothing the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Cormier hasn’t overcome before.
Cormier started his career at heavyweight, where he went 13-0 and won the Strikeforce championship despite facing exclusively bigger opponents.
T-Mobile Arena, 3:30 p.m. July 7, starting at $90 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849