The Winners & Losers From UFC 241
By Jack Maher
UFC 241 promises plenty and delivered as advertised. The event looked to be one of the UFC’s best cards of the year so far on paper and it most certainly lived up to those expectations.
The dramatic night of fights that was UFC 241 has altered the future of many of the events winners, as well as the losers, so let’s take a look at the fighters who gained the most and lost the most on Saturday night.
When talking about the events biggest winners, it’s impossible to start with anyone other than Stipe Miocic.
The Ohio heavyweight stopped Daniel Cormier in the fourth round to reclaim the heavyweight championship he lost to Cormier in July of last year. Miocic again finds himself on top of the heavyweight mountain once again, and is faced with the same dilemma he faced last year which lead to the Cornier fight being booked, which is that Miocic has already beaten most of the top heavyweights.
The most obvious contender is Francis Ngannou, who Miocic completely outclassed on way to a decision win last year. The Ngannou rematch wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, the Cameroonian has been on an impressive run winning his last three fights via KO in the first round.
But I think a more compelling fight for Miocic would be against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Jones has long been linked with a move to heavyweight, and given that there is an absence of a clear number one contender at light heavyweight, as well as at heavyweight for that matter, I think it makes sense for both men to grasp this opportunity to be a part of this historic fight.
A win for Miocic over Jones would allow him to make a rightful claim to be the best fighter on the planet, and that would be a much more impressive addition to the resume than a second win over Ngannou would.
Victorious in the co-main event was Nate Diaz, who looked impressive in a unanimous decision win over Anthony Pettis.
This was Diaz’s first fight in just under three years, and he looked as good as ever against Pettis, and he can go on to an even bigger fight from here.
My initial thought was to suggest that the trilogy fight with Conor McGregor should be next, but Diaz took matters in to his own hands, calling out Jorge Masvidal who was at ringside for the event.
Masvidal is one of the hottest properties in MMA right now, coming off the back of a record setting KO over Ben Askren. Both men have became fan favourites due to their habit of playing a part in some of the biggest moments in UFC history.
It’s hard to imagine this fight being anything other than a classic, and given the that both men are two of the sports biggest stars, I don’t think this fight would be out of place as a five-round PPV headliner.
Also victorious on the main card was Paulo Costa, and while his win over Yoel Romero wasn’t by the widest or margins, the rewards this win over the current #2 ranked middleweight in the UFC are potentially massive.
The result could’ve gone either way, but that’s not a knock on Costa, it takes a good fighter to compete with Romero, so for all three judges to think Costa beat Romero shows that ‘Borrachinha’ is the real deal.
The undefeated Brazilian has his eyes set on the middleweight championship, which will be contended for when current champion Robert Whittaker defends against interim champ Israel Adesanya in October. Costa deserves to fight the winner for the belt next, and either man would be a brilliant adversary for Costa to take on for the belt at some point next year.
One of the biggest shocks of the night was Devonte Smith finding himself on the end of a knockout loss to Khama Worthy in the very first round.
The Tuesday Night Contender Series product was riding a six fight win streak in to UFC 241, and was expected by many to breeze past his former training partner Worthy, but instead the lightweight suffered a heavy TKO defeat against his third scheduled opponent for the event.
Smith had previously been booked to face John Makdessi, before Makdessi pulled out and was replaced by Clay Collard, who also pulled out. A rebooking against either of those two would make sense next for Smith, and personally I’d lean towards Makdessi.
A UFC fighter since 2010, Makdessi is no pushover but has rarely upset the applecart when paired with a top level opponent. Now 10-2, another loss would be bad news for Smith as it would leave him 3-2 in the UFC overall and on a two fight losing streak. A fight against Makdessi is a winnable one, but by no means a guaranteed victory, especially when you consider how heavily he was favoured against Worthy.
The fighter who suffered the most crushing defeat was undoubtedly Daniel Cormier. ‘DC’ suffered the second official loss of his career at the hands of Miocic, and its hard to see where he goes next.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cormier, for his achievements inside of the cage and his actions outside of it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him hang up his gloves at this point. Cormier is still a very good fighter, and could probably still beat a lot of the top names at heavyweight and light heavyweight, but is the risk really worth the reward at this stage of Cormier’s career and life?
Cormier has achieved an incredible amount in the sport and will go down in history as one of the best to ever fight inside the octagon, and while he will be missed it may be in his best interests to walk away from the sport without taking any further damage.
I’m not saying that Cormier absolutely should retire, as that choice lies with him and his family and it would be disrespectful to try and make that choice on his behalf, but what I am saying is that I don’t believe he has anything left to prove inside the cage and that if Cornier retired today then he’ll be retiring having made the most of his talent and ability.