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UFC 241 breakdown: Can Daniel Cormier finish Stipe Miocic again?

MMA Junkie Radio co-host and MMA Junkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC 241 between heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and challenger and former titleholder Stipe Miocic.

UFC 241 takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Daniel Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 40 Weight: 251 lbs. Reach: 72.5″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Derrick Lewis(Nov. 3, 2018)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC heavyweight champion
+ Former UFC light heavyweight champion
+ Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner
+ 2x U.S. Olympian (wrestling captain)
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 10 KO victories
+ 5 submission wins
+ 8 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Deceptive distance closer
^ Slips and rips way inside
+ Heavy overhands and uppercuts
+ Strong clinch game
^ Effective dirty boxer
+ Diverse takedown game
^ Favors high-crotch single
+ Transitions intelligently on top

Stipe Miocic (18-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC)

Knockout loss to Daniel Cormier(July 7, 2018)

  • Camp: Strong Style Fight Team (Ohio)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good
  • Supplemental info:

    + Former UFC heavyweight champion
    + Golden Gloves winner
    + NCAA Division 1 wrestler
    + Regional MMA title
    + 14 KO victories
    + 9 first-round finishes
    + KO power
    + Aggressive pace and pressure
    + Excellent footwork
    + Good sense inside the pocket
    ^ Pulls and returns well
    + Dangerous right hand
    ^ Counters well off of inside parry
    + Solid takedown transitions
    ^ Favors head-outside singles
    + Good positional rides
    ^ Active ground striker
    +/- Coming off of a one-year layoff

    Point of interest: Returning to the fire

    The main event for UFC 241 features a rematch of a first-round hellfire that saw Cormier defeat Miocic for the heavyweight title back in July of last year.

    Since then, not a lot has changed, as we still have a matchup between two fighters who use a lot of the same tools and themes to their high-pressure approach.

    Hailing from San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy, Cormier embodies a similar style to his stablemate, two-time former heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. Stalking forward with feints, fakes and measuring jabs, Cormier will slip and rip his way inside. In recent years, Cormier has also applied a variation of hand-trapping, extending his arms out in order to bait opposition into exchanging with him on his terms.

    Often punctuating his presence with hooks up high, the champion has no issues finishing with leg kicks down low. In fact, I think that Cormier has an underrated kicking ability, and I would not be surprised to see him pick up where he quietly left off in the first fight by continuing to kick at Miocic’s legs (perhaps trying to replicate the successes that fighters like Junior dos Santos found).

    Nevertheless, regardless of the result or the comfort that Cormier may have felt the first time out, he will still need to respect the speed and power that will be coming back at him.

    A Golden Gloves boxing winner before he even began his MMA career, Miocic has continually stood out among his contemporaries with his striking skills. Although Mioicic’s athletic ability and background in wrestling add an undeniable dimension to his game, it is the work that the champion does in small spaces that tends to make the difference.

    Akin to a heavyweight version of Frankie Edgar, Miocic will steadily work behind a series of jabs and feints, stepping slightly off at an angle in search of his counters or followup shots. Moving just as well laterally as he does in and out, Miocic shows a good sense of the action inside the pocket, almost preternaturally pulling and returning his punches.

    Whether Miocic is using his patent inside-parries or slick step-offs to the side, his battering ram of a right-hand is undoubtedly his hallmark. However, considering Cormier’s propensity to slip away from that side, I will be curious to see if Miocic adjusts his shot selections with either follow-up left hooks or a surprise switch-kick (as he seldom launches kicks above his waistline) from the left side.

    Next point of interest: The clinch, and everything that comes with it

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