UFC 241 was the stage for a heavyweight title rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. Cormier, the champion, unseated Miocic the year prior at UFC 226 and ended his historic reign. On that mid-August day, Miocic got his revenge and took back the UFC heavyweight championship.
Cormier appeared on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on Tuesday and said the trilogy fight is on the table. The UFC wants to make it happen, and it will be the 40-year-old's last MMA fight win or lose.
When you begin to look at the two combatants, their history and where the sport is in 2019, one can realize that this fight is not just another title fight. It's a legacy fight.
The winner of Cormier-Miocic III will be the greatest of all time at heavyweight.
For the UFC record books, these were already the lone two at the top. Prior to Miocic's record-breaking reign and Cormier's run, there was a discussion to be had. Cormier's teammate Cain Velasquez was also mentioned as being the best UFC heavyweight, but injuries prevented Velasquez from ever becoming a long-tenured champion. Other fighters and champions were too inconsistent or failed to deliver on the big stage.
Outside of the UFC, only one name entered the conversation: Fedor Emelianenko.
For many, Fedor is the GOAT and always will be. Fandom can make some turn a blind eye to facts, but when you look at his career in full, it is difficult to keep him on that pedestal. Cormier and Miocic have passed him by.
During Fedor's decorated reign as the consensus No. 1-ranked heavyweight, his opposition was not the best. In between marquee fights, he had sideshow bouts against pro wrestlers and a character like Zuluzinho in Pride.
After Pride was purchased by the UFC, he took bouts against Matt Lindland, a middleweight, and Hong Man Choi. After suffering losses to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, Fedor was then knocked out by a bloated Dan Henderson. Those memories cannot be washed away.
This is not to discredit Fedor. His face still goes on a Mount Rushmore of MMA—he's an important figure in the history of the sport.
His wins against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and others cannot be taken away, but when put up against what both Miocic and Cormier have been doing in today's MMA, it simply doesn't stack up.
There have not been side steps into circus fights against overmatched competition. Cormier and Miocic welcome the best of the best each time out, and they answer the call with emphatic results more often than not.
The UFC 241 bout stands out as a great title tilt between two all-time great heavyweights in this sport—Cormier found success early, and Miocic weathered the storm before making the necessary adjustments to earn an incredible fourth-round finish.
Per UFCStats.com, Cormier landed 181 significant strikes to Miocic's 123. The two combined for 365 total strikes in less than 20 minutes.
They showed incredible heart and skill. It was what a heavyweight title fight should be and what future fights will be judged against.
If Cormier avenges the loss, he will end his MMA career with a heavyweight record of 16-1 with wins over Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Derrick Lewis and Miocic (x2). If Miocic defends, his resume will include Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Francis Ngannou and Cormier (x2).
The winner of the trilogy fight earns the distinction of being the greatest heavyweight of all-time.
When the bout agreement is signed and these two step back inside the Octagon, the UFC should market the fight for what it is: a true legacy fight to find out who is the best heavyweight to ever compete in this sport.
Four simple letters will give the fans all they need to know about the fight and what is at stake: G.O.A.T.