Stipe Miocic takes trilogy from retiring Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier‘s spirit was willing, but Father Time slows down for no one.
In his final career fight, the 41-year-old Cormier (22-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) had his moments, but Stipe Miocic entered the cage as heavyweight champion Saturday night and left with his belt, as well.
In the final bout of a heralded trilogy, Miocic (20-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) used a wide range of tools to wear down his foe and retain his title in the main event of UFC 252 in Las Vegas. Miocic took the fight with a unanimous decision as the judges scored it 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 in favor of the titleholder, who took the last two of their three bouts.
“Honestly, DC is a Hall of Famer, one of the best,” Miocic said. “He made me better.”
Miocic established his pattern in the first round, as he peppered Cormier with shots to the body to set up the rest of his offense. But while Miocic was crisp and efficient with his striking, Cormier landed power shots, including a gigantic right hand in the closing seconds, which nearly dropped Miocic and likely stole the round.
The second saw this pattern continue, with Miocic more active and Cormier landing the heavier power shots. In the late seconds, though, came the fight-altering sequence, as Miocic faked a body shot, then dropped a backpedaling Cormier on the jaw. Cormier held on for dear life until the horn.
The third round was fought at a more methodical pace, and in the final seconds Miocic blasted Cormier with a nasty eye poke (Cormier had hit Miocic with a poke in the first round), which went uncalled by referee Marc Goddard.
It was academic from there, as Cormier essentially fought with one eye the rest of the way. Any time Cormier looked to land a home run punch, Miocic closed the distance and clinched Cormier against the UFC’s samaller, 25-foot cage.
In their first fight, at UFC 226, Cormier knocked out Miocic in the first round to become a simultaneous champ. The rematch at UFC 241 saw Miocic take the belt back in a four-round war that ended with a TKO.
Cormier’s retirement marked the end of an era, which included simultaneous UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight title reigns and the Strikeforce Grand Prix tournament championship.
“I don’t think there’s a title in my future,” Cormier said. “That will be it for me. I’ve had a long run, I just fought for the heavyweight championship. It was a great fight.”
The heavyweight title bout was the UFC 252 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+