UFC 241: Daniel Cormier Favorite Against Stipe Miocic in Saturday Rematch for Heavyweight Championship

Posted on: August 17, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: August 16, 2019, 08:41h.

Daniel Cormier enters UFC 241 as a slight favorite to defend the UFC heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic on Saturday night in Anaheim, California.

Daniel Cormier Miocic UFC 241
Daniel Cormier (left) seeks to defend his UFC heavyweight title in a rematch vs. Stipe Miocic (right). (Image: ESPN)

FanDuel Sportsbook has Cormier listed as a -138 favorite heading into the fight, with Miocic (+114) considered only a mild underdog in a rematch of their July 2018 battle.

Cormier Only Interested in Big Fights

That night at UFC 226 saw Cormier (22-1) score a knockout win over Miocic (18-3) late in the first round. It was the culmination of a rapid assent through the MMA ranks for the former Olympic wrestler, who at the time held both the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight titles.

Cormier has since relinquished the 205-pound title, focusing instead on defending his heavyweight crown. He did so once in November, beating Derrick Lewis by rear naked choke in the second round, but a rematch against Miocic has always felt like it was looming for the champion. In fact, it is one of the last fights that the 40-year-old – who has previously said he wanted to retire around this age – is willing to take.

“It’s only big fights for me,” Cormier said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “It’ll be Stipe Miocic, and if I fight again, it’ll be [Jon] Jones. It’s not going to be anybody else.”

Miocic is certainly up for the challenge of facing Cormier again. He hasn’t fought since losing his title last year, and says that a second fight between the two heavyweights will look far different from the first.

It was going good, and just he won the lottery,” Miocic told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto earlier this month. “I have a chance to get by belt back, and I want that belt. I think it’s just a little bit more than the belt now, too. I want to prove I’m a better fighter, which I know I am.”

But while Miocic believes the big shot landed by Cormier that quickly ended the fight was a fluke, it’s also true that a knockout punch is his most likely path to victory. Certainly, he can’t plan on taking Cormier to the mat, where the Olympian is a nightmare matchup for just about anyone in the world.

Those skills give Cormier the advantage, as he’s clearly in a superior position when and if the fight goes to the ground. On the feet, the fight is closer to a toss-up, but more likely than not Cormier will be able to hold on to the title – assuming age hasn’t started to catch up with him this year.

Diaz Returns from Three-Year Absence

The co-main event also promises to be an entertaining affair, as welterweights Anthony Pettis (22-8) and Nate Diaz (19-11) face off in another bout that’s close to a coin flip. The No. 7 ranked Pettis is a -138 favorite over Diaz (+114), and is coming off a knockout win over Stephen Thompson in March. Diaz, on the other hand, hasn’t fought since 2016, when he first beat Conor McGregor by rear naked choke before losing a rematch at UFC 202 by majority decision.

Diaz has had a fractured relationship with the UFC since then, and even skipped out on the UFC 241 media day. Pettis, on the other hand, has had plenty to say, and believes he has what it takes to beat the former lightweight title challenger.

“Nate Diaz is not a real welterweight,” Pettis said in a video published by the UFC on YouTube. “I’m expecting a dog fight, but I’m a little more intelligent than him. I have more tools in my toolbox and I don’t see where he gets it done. Where’s he gonna beat me at?”

If there is an advantage for Diaz, it will probably come from his trademark relentlessness, which should be present throughout all three rounds of the fight thanks to his excellent stamina. That said, Pettis is right that he is more at home at welterweight, and it’s hard to evaluate where Diaz stands following such a long layoff.

Other UFC 241 bouts include a middleweight tilt between Yoel Romero (-152) and the undefeated Paulo Henrique Costa (+126), a featherweight bout between Sodiq Yusuff (-300) and Gabriel Benitez (+230), and fight between middleweights Derek Brunson (+126) and Ian Heinisch (-154).