UFC 252: The Fallout
By Ross Markey
Daniel Cormier, a staple at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California – opted against continuing his largely successful initial stint at heavyweight in the UFC, due to the fact his teammate and close friend, Cain Velasquez ruled the roost when he began to make waves.
Without the Olympian’s decision to test light heavyweight waters – we would’ve never seen one of the most intriguing, heated, and entertaining rivalries in mixed martial arts antiquity play out.
Apart from his July 2018 success over Miocic in their first meeting, Cormier is undoubtedly best known for his pair of clashes with rival, Jon Jones.
In a spat which had it all in terms of entertainment value, controversy and memorable fights – Jones prevailed, but in the Albequerque native’s often leave of absence away from the Octagon – it was Cormier who would remain unstuck at the top of the 205-pound pile.
Knocking back two of the most talented competitors in divisional history to never achieve champion status – Cormier showed phenomenal grit and determination to withstand the siege of Alexander Gustafsson; real championship grit.
Twice faced with overcoming one of the most feared punchers in the sport’s history, Cormier would utilise his often overlooked grappling to submit Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson twice – to first win vacant and then defend his light heavyweight throne.
For the aforenoted, Miocic – the narrative developed by the promotion ahead of the trilogy with Cormier was relatively straight forward. The victor holds the undisputed heavyweight crown and goes down in history as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
That’s four combined successful defences from two championship reigns for Ohio striker, Miocic, however – his next attempted title outing could offer the stiffest challenge of his career to date.
Below, join me as I play matchmaker for heavyweight best, Miocic – with a familiar opponent reemerging to try his luck for a second time, and also dissect the potential for a champion versus champion matchup that’s been teased for an age.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou II
There can’t be any real, sustainable argument against a rematch between Miocic and one-time challenger, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou, can there?
Back in January of 2018 – Miocic cruised to a record-breaking successful defence against Ngannou, utilising some smart wrestling to mitigate the soul-snatching hooks of the Cameroonian in their UFC 220 headliner. It was completely one-sided, but apart from his loss to Miocic, and a forgettable blemish opposite Derrick Lewis – Ngannou has regained number-one contender status with some truly frightening stoppages.
Securing a 4-0 record since his defeat to Lewis – 33-year-old Batié native, Ngannou has knocked back fellow perennial contender, Curtis Blaydes, former champions, the aforenoted, Velasquez, and Junior dos Santos – as well as a May demolition of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, each and every finish coming before the two-minute mark of the first round. Deadly.
It’s also an incredibly intriguing battle and re-run on paper. Can Ngannou put right the wrongs which resulted in his first promotional loss? Or, can Miocic stop the rise of the sport’s current most feared puncher for a second time? Denying Ngannou a title tilt off the back of four wins is simply a non-runner for me.
Stipe Miocic vs. Jon Jones
This one may have some legs, also. Current light heavyweight kingpin, Jones has forever hinted at an eventual move to heavyweight to test his ilk, but for one reason or another, we’re yet to see the Rochester native tip the scales beyond 205-pounds.
It may not happen right away, but that depends entirely on Jones, I believe. If the brash Jackson-Wink MMA staple elects to follow through with tentative plans to vacate the light heavyweight crown – a leap to heavyweight is the only logical step for him.
The possibility of Jones’ drafting into the title picture from the get-go is a certainty, and a title tilt between Miocic and himself offers him the best chance of achieving his second world championship, in my opinion.
Jones has openly discussed his willingness to meet with the aforenoted Ngannou in a heralded ‘superfight’, however, a major sticking point between the 33-year-old and the promotion was reportedly the purse he’d receive for undertaking such a task.
The ball is in Jones’ court for this potential tie. It may not be on the cards right away – but Jones can most definitely force the issue if he decides to walk away from his light heavyweight throne.