- UFC 226 takes place in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 7 (10:00 p.m. ET)
- Daniel Cormier aims to become the first light-heavyweight and heavyweight champ in UFC history.
- Is it worth wagering on this matchup now given the early odds?
|FIGHTER||EARLY ODDS FOR UFC 226|
|STIPE MIOCIC (C)||-200|
UFC 226 is not until July 7th, but we already have a main event that should bring a few eyes to the pay-per-view. Stipe Miocic (18-2) will defend his UFC heavyweight championship against current light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier (20-1).
This matchup is history in the making and will cement the winner’s legacy as one of the best of all time. The early odds are out so let’s break it down.
In some ways, Miocic provides Cormier with similar problems as Jones, but on a bigger scale.
Miocic is arguably the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time already, thanks to his record number of title defenses (3). He does a great job of blending his kickboxing with his wrestling, which forces opponents to fight his fight. He will enter the ring with a significant size (6’4 vs 5’11) and reach (80″ vs 72.5″) advantage. Miocic loves to throw short range punches with a ton of power, averaging 4.75 strikes landed per minute at an accuracy of 51%. It’s why 15 of his 18 wins have been the way of KO/TKO (83% knockout rate).
When the 35-year-old faced Francis Ngannou at UFC 220, he was able to use his wrestling to take Ngannou down and make him work into the deeper rounds. That strategy worked against a guy who had no wrestling experience and a small gas tank. It will be difficult to do the same against a grappling machine in Cormier.
Wrestling is the light-heavyweight champ’s bread and butter. A former Olympian, Cormier has a takedown success rate of 42%, a number that’s only deflated thanks to two fights with Jon Jones. He also has an extremely underrated striking game, which he uses to set up takedown shots.
This will not be the first time that Cormier has fought at heavyweight. He started his career in Strikeforce in the big man’s division and even won their heavyweight grand prix. When he transitioned to the UFC, he chose to fight at 205 pounds in order to avoid teammate Cain Velasquez. So fighting bigger guys is not anything new for the 38-year-old. But fighting Miocic will be his toughest apart from Jones.
In some ways, Miocic provides Cormier with similar problems as Jones, but on a bigger scale. He can fight at a high pace into the later rounds, will strike from a variety of angles with power, and will use his strong wrestling base to keep the fight standing. That is precisely how Jones was able to beat Cormier both times they fought.
Several factors are making me lean toward Miocic, specifically, Cormier’s age, the wear and tear he has taken on his body, the brutal weight fluctuations, and most importantly, the fact that this is a bad stylistic matchup for the light-heavyweight champ. He has shown in the past that he can shut down big strikers (Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Johnson), and this is likely to be a close fight that goes the distance, but Miocic is a deserving favorite, given his similarities to Jon Jones, and the better bet at this stage.