UFC 241 Preview
By Anuj Datta
UFC 241 is undoubtedly one of the biggest fight cards of the year. The main event is a rematch for the UFC world heavyweight championship, between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. The co-main features a grudge match between Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz.
Cormier has been in scintillating form of late, capturing the heavyweight crown against Miocic and finishing “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis to end 2018.
After turning 40, he has stated on several occasions his intent to retire, but the love for the octagon has put that thought on the back burner. A potential lucrative bout with Brock Lesnar failed to materialise so Miocic was granted his rematch.
For the most successful heavyweight champ of all time, he was begrudged that he had to wait so long. So much so, that he refused to fight anyone else much to the chagrin of Cormier. The latter expressing his disappointment, that his foe was not more active in competition since that loss.
Miocic comes into the rematch with a hunger to prove the first outing was a fluke, stating in an interview that its more important to him to beat Cormier than to recapture the gold. The aftermath of the fight is just as intriguing. Depending on the outcome, there’s a chance that Cormier will have that trilogy fight with Jones before the year is out.
Also waiting in the wings is Francis Ngannou. The Predator looking to avenge that loss to Miocic, that wrecked his confidence.
Perhaps the most anticipated fight on the card is Pettis vs Diaz. Both men are fan favourites for their “leave it all in the cage” fight style. The dislike between the two is widely known, with Diaz believing that “Showtime” was afforded opportunities in the organization where he was overlooked.
The former lightweight champ Pettis promises to expose the Stockton native, and looked impressive in his welterweight debut knocking out Wonderboy Stephen Thompson with a superman punch, where Diaz hasn’t fought since losing to Conor McGregor in 2016.
A middleweight bout between two of the most athletic in the division, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa sits in the centre of the main card. Romero is coming back after two wars with the current champion Robert Whittaker, which many believe he won.
Costa has called out Romero on numerous occasions, believing a win over the Cuban will propel him into title contention.
Costa is 12-0 with a 100% finish rate but faces a man equally as explosive. Romero owns two of the most devastating knockouts in recent history, both over former middleweight champions, Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.
At featherweight, veteran Gabriel Benitez faces prospect Sodiq Yusuff. Benitez is 5-2 in the UFC and has had some impressive performances. The same can be said for “Super” Yusuff who will be looking to climb his way into the rankings with a victory on Saturday night.
Ian Heinisch won his UFC contract on Dana White’s contender series this time last year and with back to back wins, has earned a top 10 ranking. He faces his toughest test yet in Derek Brunson.
Brunson has fought the best and beaten future hall of famers but has also come up short against the top guys in the division. If Heinisch can emerge victorious, it will put him in good stead for a top 5 opponent next.
UFC 241 has potential for history to be made. If Miocic beats Cormier, he will be the first man to defeat DC at heavyweight. If he loses again, it further cements Cormier’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time.