4 Ways Daniel Cormier Can Beat Stipe Miocic at UFC 252
When approaching a big UFC pay-per-view, the combat sports team at Bleacher Report puts its heads together to find ways the main event's underdog can pull off an upset.
We did it in suggesting Justin Gaethje could topple Tony Ferguson but had a tougher time making a case for Felicia Spencer against Amanda Nunes or Jorge Masvidal over Kamaru Usman.
But this one's a little different.
According to odds posted Thursday by Caesars Palace, it'd take a $105 bet on Stipe Miocic to yield a $100 profit if the champ retains his title and a $115 wager on Daniel Cormier to make $100 if the challenger wins.
Because they've fought twice and each gotten a finish, the trilogy match favorite isn't so clear cut.
With no prohibitive underdog to back, we chose to go with momentum.
Miocic was the winner in the most recent of their two fights—in addition to being younger and presumably stronger, too—so he's got the perceived upper hand, leaving us to concoct a list of ways in which Cormier, five months past his 41st birthday, can win.
And in the spirit of Holly Holm, Forrest Griffin and Keith Jardine—authors of three of the UFC's biggest surprises over Ronda Rousey, Shogun Rua and Chuck Liddell, respectively—we assembled a short list of ways in which the decorated veteran might walk away in style come Sunday morning.
Click through to see how your list jibes with ours.
Make It Dirty
Cormier and Miocic have fought three rounds from start to finish and significant parts of two others. During much of that time—some would say the majority, in fact—the former light heavyweight king has gotten the better of the action because of his proclivity for so-called dirty boxing.
Cormier has frequently induced the taller, longer Miocic into closing the distance and smothering his own built-in striking advantage. And when unable to successfully work toward a takedown, he’d start striking from close quarters, where Miocic’s lankiness becomes a detriment.
He did so perfectly in the finishing sequence of the first fight, essentially daring Miocic to approach and gain underhook control, then shaking off the clinch and drilling the Clevelander with a close-range right hook that instantly dropped him to the floor.
He's hurt Miocic on other occasions, too, which means another title change is never far away.
Make It Boring
Cormier is cool with the 25-foot Octagon. Miocic is not so fond of it.
So it's no surprise a prime path to victory for the former Pan American Games freestyle wrestling champ involves skipping past the drama and grinding to a victory horizontally.
Though Miocic has some legit collegiate wrestling chops of his own, Cormier is on a higher plane of expertise when it comes to making smooth transitions to dominate and defend on the mat. Intermittently mixing takedowns with his close-range striking—thus keeping his opponent a bit unsteady in clinches—will provide the strategic opening needed for a second win in three tries.
There's a fine line between successfully working his man on the ground and running his own gas tank dry, though, so being judicious about timing and duration has to figure into the Cormier game plan.
Make It Quick
Watch the second Cormier-Miocic fight again.
And watch the champ-champ do all the things prescribed for a second straight victory.
He induces Miocic into negating his own physical advantages and doles out punishment on the inside. Additionally, he takes his man down twice in six tries and is subsequently able to land 110 of his 460 overall strikes while on the ground.
Problem is, nearly all of his effectiveness occurred in the first 15 minutes.
By the time the fighters met to start Round 4, Cormier was noticeably tired and certainly damaged from his opponent's sudden switch to punishing his body with left hooks. The fatigue and punishment moved the then-champion's needle to E—and set him up for a decisive turnaround at 4:09.
Cormier has suggested he's in much better shape for the third go-round, but he's also 41 and prone to late-stage fadeouts. If he's going to get it done, it's in his best interests to do it quickly.
Make It Historic
Cormier has clearly got a few ways to get this thing done.
He can do it with close-range striking. He can do it with grinding mat work. He can do it with the swift suddenness he showed in winning the initial match of the series by first-round KO.
And while Miocic has certainly got some winning methods of his own, there's one area in which the now-reigning champ clearly takes a back seat compared to Cormier.
By becoming a two-time champ in his second weight class, the 41-year-old will have authored the most spectacular trilogy send-off in mixed martial arts and can ride into a preposterously satisfying retirement sunset...at least until a third Jon Jones fight comes up.