The Conway UFC 241 Predictions
By Alex Conway
The UFC has another major event happening this weekend in Anaheim. At the top of the UFC 241 main card sits a historical heavyweight title fight rematch, the return of one of the sport’s biggest attractions and a middleweight fight between two of the best physical specimens in the sport.
Here are my predictions for the top 3 fights.
Cormier vs. Miocic
Daniel Cormier will attempt to defend his heavyweight title for the second time, and he’ll be making that attempt against the man he took it from, former champion Stipe Miocic.
It’s well known that Miocic holds the record for the most successful title defenses in the division at three, but with a win it is commonly believed that Cormier will supplant Miocic as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history.
While Cormier has fought Derrick Lewis since the first fight between DC and Miocic, the Cleveland born Miocic has been on the sidelines this whole time.
Both fighters are excellent wrestlers, but Cormier is much better in this area. On the feet it’s more even, but they feature vastly different styles. Miocic is almost entirely boxing based while Cormier is primarily boxing based, but much better at kicking range.
Where this fight was decided last time is probably the same place it’ll be decided this go around and that is in the clinch. Few fighters are better than Cormier in this area and as evidenced by his first-round knockout due to a heavy blow exiting the clinch in the first fight, few are more dangerous and lethal here also.
Cormier exploited a hole in Miocic’s game that his coaches had identified. It’s a hole that was well-publicized and likely has been drilled over and over again by Miocic so that it can’ be exploited again.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t lose this fight in the clinch, even if it is a more drawn out process this time around.
I envision that Cormier won’t want to stand at range with Miocic and will look to enter the clinch off combinations and either look to take it to the ground from here, but much more likely is that he’ll try to reconstruct what he did against Alexander Gustafsson and use violent uppercuts against his taller opponent.
I think this fight goes five rounds and Cormier gets a unanimous decision win. I believe Miocic will have moments where he can frustrate Cormier at range, but won’t be able to hold that position consistently or keep Cormier off of him.
Cormier is the pick here.
Pettis vs. Diaz
Nate Diaz hasn’t fought since his back-to-back with Conor McGregor, and while his popularity explosion may have died down a little bit with his inactivity, he’s clearly the biggest attraction on this fight card.
His feud with Pettis is a strange one because few have really had beef with Pettis. But like his rivalry with McGregor it all stems from Diaz’s thought process that opportunities have been given to guys who haven’t done the work he’s done and have flashy styles that aren’t meant for hard battle.
Pettis showed off his punching power, really for the first time in his UFC tenure, when he knocked out Stephen Thompson with a big push punch off the cage during his welterweight debut in March. Over his career, Pettis’ most devastating strikes have almost always been from his kicks.
Those kicks will certainly be the key to victory for him on Saturday, but I don’t believe it’ll be enough to get the job done for him.
Diaz is a relentless pressure fighter, something Pettis has notoriously struggled with. Kicks have been a weakness for Diaz, but his durability should win him the fight against Pettis over time.
If Pettis allows Diaz to back him up against the cage and unload on him, it will be a different experience than the wrestler pressure he’s faced in fights where he’s been able to secure a submission off a grappling exchange, like his fights with Gilbert Melendez and Michael Chiesa.
Diaz probably won’t look to take Pettis down and even if it goes there it’s unlikely Pettis can submit the highly capable grappling skills of Diaz.
I think Diaz gets a stoppage in Round 3 or a 29-28 decision win.
Romero vs. Costa
At some point age beats us all.
Allegedly Romero is older than 40 despite never once showing his age in the cage. Paulo Costa is one of the UFC’s best and brightest young stars. Costa has devastating punching power and good body shots.
The biggest issue and question Costa will need to answer is his cardio. There isn’t a whole lot of evidence that he has bad cardio, but his style is very much to go for big strikes that expend energy.
If Romero utilizes his world class wrestling, it’ll be the first time someone has been able to test Costa in this area. I just don’t envision him employing that tactic because his past fights have featured his wrestling, but not made it a focal point.
Romero is much more likely to use his slow down, speed up style of striking to try and catch Costa sleeping and hit him with something big, but I believe this is the fight where the young guy finally catches the old guy and we get a big statement win from Costa that he’s arrived.
Costa by knockout.