UFC 226 Betting Breakdown: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic
Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the biggest fight of 2018 thus far as light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier takes on heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in a blockbuster heavyweight title bout.
Daniel Cormier (Record: 20-2, +205 Underdog, Power Ranking: A+)
The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and current UFC light heavyweight champion has lost just twice in his career; both times to arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jon Jones. Cormier last fought in January 2018 earning a second round finish over Volkan Oezdemir.
A former NCAA Division I All American wrestler and national runner up in 2001, Daniel Cormier continued his amateur wrestling career beyond college and represented the United States in world competitions for several years. Once Cormier transitioned to MMA, he took to the sport quickly and became a premier fighter. Cormier made his name in Strikeforce where he competed at heavyweight. His speed and movement for the weightclass were the best in the weightclass and he was able to beat much larger fighters including former UFC Champion Josh Barnett. Once he moved over to the UFC, Cormier transitioned to light heavyweight. Even at light heavyweight, Cormier certainly doesn’t have natural power. He’s not a fighter who is going to be a threat for a quick finish. Cormier does his best work using movement to get inside of an opponent and making it an ugly fight. He’s good in the clinch and is able to work in takedowns from that position. Cormier does a good job of avoiding damage overall absorbing just 2.47 significant strikes per minute. Offensively, his wrestling is pivotal to success at the highest levels securing nearly two takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and doing so at a 42% success rate. Cormier isn’t a fighter who stands out physically, but his determination make his opponents work, and he is one of the smarter fighters in the sport knowing what he needs to do in order to be successful. Cormier has a very good gas tank and tends to do much better in fights beyond the opening round.
Stipe Miocic (Record: 18-2, -245 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+)
The 35-year-old lifetime Ohio native has been on a tear winning his last six fights since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos in 2014. He enters Saturday’s title fight on the back of a decision victory over Francis Ngannou in match in January 2018. Miocic has the longest title defense streak of any heavyweight in UFC history. A victory over Cormier would cement his status of the best heavyweight in division history.
Miocic is one of the most well-rounded athletes in the heavyweight division. In addition to wrestling, he played baseball in college even drawing interest from some Major League Baseball teams. In regards to MMA, he has an amateur boxing background competing in the Golden Gloves competition. Miocic is a good striker having solid hands and works a very high pace for a heavyweight landing a whopping 4.75 significant strikes a minute. In comparison, he’s only absorbing 2.88 significant strikes per minute with 63% striking defense. Miocic mixes his striking with wrestling scoring over two takedowns every 15 minutes inside the octagon. Miocic isn’t the division’s hardest puncher, but he moves very well and has shown an ability to avoid taking much damage. Miocic has a solid motor overall and can even work a decent pace late in fights. It was his work rate that was the difference in his fight with Ngannou. On the flip side, he can be hurt by opponents. He was stunned by Overeem just a couple bouts ago, so that is something to watch for moving forward.
In what can be classified as a super fight, champions collide as the UFC’s light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier takes on heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. There’s no denying that the physical advantages in this matchup lie with Miocic. Miocic is five inches taller, holds an eight inch reach advantage, and is three years younger. In the early going in this bout, look for both fighters to be cautious, but for Miocic to use his length and establish boxing range. As both fighters get more comfortable, I expect Cormier to begin to work inside. At close range, this is a really interesting bout. Cormier’s speed will be pivotal here. He’s an excellent dirty boxer and will need tire out Miocic to win this fight. If Miocic is going to win this bout, he’ll need to finish early in order to get the win. The longer this fight goes on, the more it favors Cormier as he’ll be the more agile fighter with a better gas tank. This is a tough fight to call as Cormier is nearing 40 and hasn’t faced a fighter as physical as Miocic in some time, but at the same time Cormier’s style is a difficult matchup for Miocic. Given +205 odds, one has to consider Cormier here. Given his proven success at heavyweight, these are generous odds on him and worth considering a bet.
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