Stipe Miocic Beats Daniel Cormier Via Decision to Retain Title at UFC 252

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2020

FILE - In this July 7, 2018, file photo, Daniel Cormier, right, fights Stipe Miocic during a heavyweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 226 in Las Vegas. The trilogy fight between Daniel Cormier and champ Stipe Miocic will crown the greatest heavyweight of all time. UFC 252 Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Las Vegas could be Cormier's last fight ever. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John Locher/Associated Press

Stipe Miocic successfully defended his UFC heavyweight championship with a unanimous-decision win over Daniel Cormier to close out their trilogy in the main event of UFC 252. 

The reigning champion fended off DC for his second consecutive win over his rival with a steady diet of boxing in a closely contested five-round fight. 

The first round looked like two fighters who were familiar with one another fighting. Both had brief moments of success applying their gameplan. Cormier was able to initiate the clinch and land some powerful strikes while Miocic was able to establish some striking on the outside. 

Miocic opened up with just one minute left in the round. 

UFC Canada @UFC_CA

DC lands BIG to end R1!! #UFC252 https://t.co/dYah3HOh5o

Cormier responded with a massive overhand right. 

ESPN MMA @espnmma

The champ @stipemiocic is starting to let his hands go 👊 #UFC252 https://t.co/ouvcEUFjY3

The second round was more of the same but the ending was reversed. After a competitive round that saw a slight advantage for Cormier the champ finished strong and nearly finished the fight with a snapping right hand that stunned DC. 

UFC Canada @UFC_CA

DC lands BIG to end R1!! #UFC252 https://t.co/dYah3HOh5o

The third round was largely built around DC surviving. He employed a clinch-heavy gameplan that allowed Miocic to land with regularity but not enough to put the fight in danger. The largest development from the round may have been a nasty eye poke from the champion that visibly impaired Cormier's eye heading into the fourth. 

UFC @ufc

OOOOOH! 😱 DC survives Stipe's late RD 2 attack! #UFC252 https://t.co/QFjxoWnLCH

Despite the eye issue Cormier was still able to bite down on the mouthpiece and swing in the fourth round. Both fighters exchanged heavy leather going into the fifth and final round. 

UFC on BT Sport @btsportufc

That is an eye poke 😳 #UFC252 https://t.co/LUskhaYmv5

The back-and-forth continued in the fifth stanza to cap off an exciting, memorable fight to end a trilogy between two of the best heavyweights of all time. 

After the grueling war Cormier reaffirmed his decision to retire:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

After @stipemiocic landed a bomb, @dc_mma landed one of his own 💥 #UFC252 https://t.co/LxgSpzXC8A

Miocic's win should cement his status as the best heavyweight in UFC history. Not only does Miocic hold the record for most consecutive title defenses from his first reign, but he also has now exacted revenge on the man who took his title away. 

Cormier is the only fighter to beat Miocic over the last five years. In that span, the Ohio native has also defeated Junior dos Santos, Francis Ngannou and Alistair Overeem. 

While retirement has tended to come up for the 37-year-old recently, he didn't sound like a man who was about to hang it up anytime soon. While he doesn't necessarily want to be involved in choosing his next opponent, he has mentioned two already. 

"There's a lot of guys," he said, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "[Francis] Ngannou's looking great, [Curtis] Blaydes, I don't know. It's what the UFC wants. I fight. I'm not a matchmaker."

Cormier, on the other hand, has been vocal about his own plans to retire. Although he has previously said he would retire at 40, he stepped into the cage again to complete the trilogy with Miocic at 41. 

"This is the swan song—my last fight," he told ESPN in the lead up to the bout. "I don't think that you usually look forward to what's next. I find myself thinking about the day when I don't have to be in those training camps. I look forward to the days when I'm doing more things in the mainstream media. I'm garnering a lot of opportunities right now, and I'm so excited about those things."

For his part, UFC President Dana White isn't buying the retirement talk. Cormier has backtracked on retirement before, and White believes he won't want to go out on a loss. 

If this is the end for him, he walks away as a future Hall of Famer. Cormier is one of the few men to hold the UFC title in two different weight classes. He has been an elite light heavyweight and heavyweight fighter since coming over from Strikeforce, where he won the Heavyweight Grand Prix.