UFC president Dana White made some information Tuesday morning, and whilst a lot of the point of interest used to be at the playing cards he introduced for the extremely expected Fight Island, he threw in a nugget that arguably dwarfs another struggle discussed. The trilogy bout between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and previous two-department champ Daniel Cormier is about for Aug. 15.
For some time, it appeared like the struggle would possibly now not occur. Miocic had surgical procedure on a torn retina that used to be taking some time to heal. The damage took place all through his fourth-spherical stoppage of Cormier on Aug. 17, 2019. He additionally is part-time EMT in a Cleveland suburb running complete-time hours all through the coronavirus pandemic. Cormier used to be getting itchy whilst ready and stated if the trilogy struggle did not occur quickly he would possibly simply retire with out it. There used to be communicate of stripping the name from Miocic, who argued that he wasn’t in a position to coach along with his gymnasium closed.
But now Cormier has what he stated shall be his ultimate bout earlier than calling an finish to a profession that no doubt will put him in the UFC Hall of Fame. Of direction, opponents are infamous for unretiring, as evidenced by means of a definite ex-champ from Ireland who’s on retirement No. 3. But no explanation why to carry Conor McGregor into this dialogue.
There’s additionally some hypothesis Miocic may just name it quits after this one, so there is a lot using in this bout. ESPN’s panel of Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim addresses the magnitude of this struggle, and what it’s going to do for Cormier’s legacy.
How do you spot this struggle unfolding?
Helwani: I believe it is going so much like the second, which means Cormier makes use of his wrestling early on and Miocic tries to stay the struggle status. I’m positive Miocic will attempt to move to the frame once more, so it’s going to be attention-grabbing to peer if Cormier realized his lesson from the second one struggle.
Okamoto: This is the most important struggle in the historical past of the UFC’s heavyweight department. Don’t @ me. Miocic is the one guy to ever protect the name 3 consecutive occasions. Daniel Cormier has misplaced to 2 males in his whole profession. Just two — Miocic and the best fighter of all time, Jon Jones. A belt is at the line in this one, however extra necessary, the winner will be capable of name himself the most efficient heavyweight of his generation. The stakes are huge.
Point is, I believe they’ll each carry their A-sport. There’s a historical past right here, clearly. In addition to being very proficient athletically, those two also are highly intelligent. We’ll see changes. We’ll see issues realized from the primary two encounters. I consider we will see a couple of momentum shifts and, similar to the former two, we will see a knockout end.
This one is for all of the marbles. 1-1, each knockouts however nice fights, I will be able to’t wait to struggle this dude once more!! Now it is time to paintings as onerous as I ever skilled. #weareaka #zinkinsportsmanagement #2xheavyweightchamp 2xlightheavyweightchamp pic.twitter.com/BvyhectS4X
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) June 9, 2020
Raimondi: Cormier took the primary struggle by means of first-spherical knockout. Miocic got here again with a fourth-spherical TKO of his personal at UFC 241 ultimate August. In the newest contest, Miocic used to be in a position to regulate overdue and assault Cormier’s frame. Once he did that, it unfolded the top and Miocic did not pass over. This one will almost definitely come all the way down to Cormier’s wrestling. He took Miocic down in the primary spherical of the second one struggle, however then were given clear of that as a part of his technique. Cormier admitted later on that used to be a mistake. If Cormier, a former Olympian, can decide to his wrestling, it might give him an edge.
But the variables are many. There’s an endemic. Miocic, in explicit, has now not had his gymnasium open for months. He’s been running as a firefighter and EMT, whilst now not coaching that a lot. I’m very a lot having a look ahead to seeing the way it performs out. It’ll be some of the easiest trilogy fights in UFC historical past.
Wagenheim: Each guy has lived thru the similar two primal and formative reports: preventing the opposite, and being stopped by means of him. They’ve additionally every compelled the opposite to really feel the annoyance of being made to watch for a rematch just a little longer than most well-liked. It can be an exaggeration to mention there is unhealthy blood, however what as soon as might be described as an amicable competition has became ornery. One man can not wait to get this ultimate struggle out of the best way so he can stroll out the door into his circle of relatives’s hands, whilst the opposite is at the very least considering a swan music. Their lives, from house to the educational gymnasium, have borne the burden of the pandemic. It’s a thriller to me how this struggle will play out, however given the entire above and the truth that neither guy has competed since their assembly 10 months in the past, I’m anticipating just a little rust and warning balanced by means of an urgency to clutch the instant if a end gifts itself.
Do you assume this would be the ultimate struggle for one, each or neither?
Helwani: Pretty attention-grabbing query. Rarely would a query like this get requested heading right into a name struggle, however I believe it is a honest one to invite. If Cormier wins, I believe he will stroll away. If he loses, I believe he will stroll away, too. If Miocic wins, I believe he sticks round. If he loses, particularly badly, I would not be shocked if he’s taking a ruin. Nothing would marvel me, even though, together with the UFC looking to convince a victorious Cormier to stay round for a 3rd Jon Jones struggle.
Okamoto: Something tells me each will retire. I’ve been announcing that for awhile now, and I’m sticking to it. For the document, I don’t have any inside of data in this one. No one has instructed me Miocic has any plans to retire, and he surely seems to have masses left in the tank. But he is 37, and whilst that isn’t previous in the struggle sport in anyway, it isn’t precisely younger both. Miocic moves me as a man who would wish to move out on best. In reality, I believe it is almost definitely much more likely he retires if he wins than if he loses. And Cormier, I do consider him when he says that is it. I have never believed him when he is stated it in the previous, however we are midway thru 2020 now. He’s 41. I consider that is it.
Raimondi: I do not believe it will be the ultimate struggle for both guy. I do know Cormier has stated repeatedly that he desires Miocic yet another time and that’ll be it. I’m now not totally satisfied. I do assume Cormier believes what he’s announcing to be true at this second. But shall we embrace Cormier beats Miocic and turns into heavyweight champion for a 2nd time. You’re telling me he’d flip down an enormous blockbuster struggle towards Francis Ngannou? You know Cormier has been looking at Ngannou carefully and feels he can put the massive knockout artist on his again along with his superb wrestling. I believe Cormier and Miocic will each struggle on after this.
Wagenheim: For Cormier, that is it, win or lose. He’s stated so. I do know, there is not any such factor as a last phrase when opponents communicate retirement, however because the curtain closes on struggle night time, DC both shall be an international champion or can have been knocked down a couple of slippery rungs at the heavyweight ladder. Both eventualities level him towards an go out signal. As for Miocic, if he wins, I believe he will stick round for at least one megafight. Maybe he will function the heavyweight welcoming committee for Jones, champion vs. champion. Or most likely it will be any other move with Ngannou, to dispel any irking tips that his 2018 disarming of the ones thunderous fists used to be a fluke or one thing. Now, if Miocic loses to DC, or if he wins however reinjures the attention that sustained retinal injury in the ultimate struggle, it generally is a two-retirement night time. Conor McGregor can be jealous.
If DC wins and retires, what is the struggle for the vacant belt?
Helwani: Ngannou vs. Miocic 2. It will be the most effective struggle to make, in my opinion. Contrary to what the general public assume, I in truth loved their first struggle again in January 2018. I even awarded their first spherical my 2018 spherical of the yr. It used to be nice theater. I would not thoughts seeing them move toe-to-toe once more. Now, if Miocic retires, it will get just a little tough. Maybe Ngannou vs. the winner of Alexander Volkov vs. Curtis Blaydes, even though Ngannou is two-Zero as opposed to Blaydes. Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis 2? That can be more or less humorous. Basically, it has to incorporate Ngannou. That a lot I do know needless to say.
Okamoto: You know that Jones vs. Ngannou struggle? The one Jones has been going backward and forward, publicly, with Dana White over? That’s the only. And glance, in step with Jones, the UFC is not in considerably expanding his pay for that struggle … at the moment. Maybe that is, in section, for the reason that promotion already has an international-elegance, trilogy, championship bout on its palms in that department. If Cormier wins and rides off into the sundown, and the UFC has a vacant name on its palms, there is much more drive at the corporate to guide a Jones vs. Ngannou struggle for the name, as a result of it could be such an evident selection.
Raimondi: Ngannou taking over Blaydes for a 3rd time perhaps? Or you’ll be able to throw Miocic proper again in and feature him struggle Ngannou for a 2nd time. Ngannou has already completed Blaydes two times, and Blaydes nonetheless has to get by means of Volkov subsequent week to cement his spot in the heavyweight hierarchy. But I do consider Blaydes has advanced since the ones losses to Ngannou. He’s simply 28 years previous, which is amazingly younger for a heavyweight, a department the place opponents normally do not height till their mid-30s. Miocic vs. Ngannou would almost definitely be the path the UFC is going, however at some level Blaydes has to get a nod.
Wagenheim: Sorry, Dana, it is gotta be Jones vs. Ngannou. Open the financial institution vault and pay the lads.
If Stipe wins, is his subsequent opponent Francis Ngannou or Jon Jones?
Helwani: Ngannou. It shall be onerous to skip Ngannou finally he is accomplished. Plus, who is aware of how this Jones scenario seems? He’s going all-in on complaint of the UFC at the moment, and the promotion’s brass has a tendency not to omit this kind of factor.
Okamoto: Like I stated previous, I believe it is neither. If Miocic wins, I’m predicting he retires and is going out on best. In the development he does now not retire, alternatively, I in truth assume it could be Jones. I may just see Miocic announcing one thing to the impact of, “I’ve already crushed Ngannou. I do know he is again on a tear, however for my legacy, I need the GOAT. I need Jon Jones.” That can be not anything wanting tragic for Ngannou, who completely, 100 % merits a UFC name shot. But as excellent and deserving as Ngannou has appeared, if the UFC and Jones have been to come back to phrases on him shifting up, I believe Miocic would almost definitely favor that and Ngannou might be at the outdoor having a look in.
Raimondi: It all relies on the UFC ponying up more cash for Jones, proper? The longtime UFC gentle heavyweight champion has been extraordinarily vocal on Twitter about believing he isn’t being paid reasonably and has now not been for just about a decade. That’s now not going to be a very simple negotiation for the UFC. For Jones to struggle Miocic in a real superfight, he will be expecting — and would deserve — large greenbacks. Ngannou may well be somewhat more straightforward to steer. He’s been loss of life for a name shot and a rematch with Miocic ever since Miocic beat him at UFC 220 in January 2018. If I needed to wager, I’d say Ngannou can be much more likely.
Wagenheim: Ngannou has earned the following name shot, however that suggests not anything in as of late’s UFC. Just ask Conor McGregor, Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo or Yoel Romero, all of whom have reduce the road by means of distinctive feature in their top profiles. And Jones is likely one of the very best-profile figures in MMA, the GOAT in many of us’s eyes. He would upload a 2nd championship belt to the promotional poster, in conjunction with daring capital letters studying “SUPERFIGHT.” That is so much for Ngannou to offset, as frightening as he’s. Also running towards him: We’ve already observed Miocic vs. Ngannou. I’d be delighted with both matchup, and I do know which one would occur if existence have been honest. But if compelled to select one, I’ve to move with the superfight. It’s a rarity. It’s historical past. (Please do not inform Francis I stated this.)
If that is in point of fact DC’s ultimate struggle, what is his legacy win or lose?
Helwani: One of the best of all time. Period. A double-champ. The just one to carry the sunshine heavyweight and heavyweight titles at the similar time, and he almost definitely will have been heavyweight champ previous had he now not long past all the way down to 205 kilos to steer clear of combating his buddy Cain Velasquez. He fought all of them, by no means gave the UFC any hassle alongside the best way, both. Severely underrated and underappreciated all through his name reigns, too. We’ll pass over him when he is long past.
Okamoto: Yes, that is DC’s ultimate struggle. Unless one thing wild occurs, like Brock Lesnar come what may enters the image once more. Or The Rock requires Cormier in the Octagon (I’m kidding … I believe). Barring one thing in point of fact unexpected, that is it for Cormier. And, see, you’ll be able to’t question me what his legacy is, win or lose. Because like I stated in answering the primary query, if he wins, he can name himself the best heavyweight of his generation. That’s what I’ll name him, at least. But if he loses a trilogy to Miocic, I will be able to’t name him that. I’ll say he used to be the second one-easiest heavyweight of his generation. And the second one-easiest gentle heavyweight of his generation. So, Cormier’s legacy is safe from the viewpoint of, he will be remembered as some of the easiest to ever do it. But the variation between the best heavyweight of his generation and the second one-largest heavyweight of his generation is somewhat large. You may just say Cormier’s legacy shall be outlined in this one, ultimate struggle. And that is some of the causes I believe that is the most important name struggle in UFC heavyweight historical past.
Raimondi: One of the 5 easiest opponents in MMA historical past. He’s one in all most effective 4 opponents ever to carry titles in two weight categories at the similar time. Win or lose, he’s going to have most effective misplaced to fellow long term Hall of Famers Jones and Miocic in his profession. To move one step additional, the argument might be made that Jones and Miocic are the 2 easiest opponents in the historical past of the UFC’s gentle heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, respectively. So, DC can have long past down most effective dropping to a couple of GOATs. Jones is in that prime-5 elegance. So is Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. Demetrious Johnson and Jose Aldo are in the dialogue. And Cormier is true there with them. What he is accomplished as an envoy for the game — which can proceed on lengthy after he retires from the cage — additionally can’t be overstated.
Wagenheim: Cormier will at all times be remembered for seizing his 2nd championship belt with a knockout that dethroned the longest-reigning heavyweight champ. But he in truth made his mark in MMA years previous, bursting at the scene as a overdue-alternative access in the Strikeforce World Grand Prix. Facing heavyweights whose résumés confirmed way more fights than his seven as a professional, DC used to be stunningly dominant in successful the belt. His gentle heavyweight run had its glories too, however he gained the name when it used to be vacant, so he by no means were given to are living that very important “to be the person, you need to beat the person” second. And he went 0-2 towards Jon Jones; technically now not, however each fights concluded with Cormier looking at his sworn enemy having his hand raised.
But Cormier’s legacy will continue to exist, simply at the different facet of the cage. As a TV analyst, he introduces an unforced aura new to MMA proclaims. For years, there were astute, neatly-spoken opponents and ex-opponents at cageside microphones, however Cormier is in a category of his personal. He is the nearest factor UFC pay-in step with-perspectives must what John Madden dropped at NFL telecasts. DC is much less beholden to schtick, and also you occasionally get the concept Cormier, like “Dandy” Don Meredith (glance him up, children), may just move off the rails at any second. It all turns out so herbal for DC. He is as likable as they arrive, and this is hoping Cormier shall be an venerated visitor in dwelling rooms for years yet to come.