UFC 252 was eagerly awaited by many MMA fans – including yours truly – for one reason and one reason alone. We wanted to find out who was really the better fighter – the defending champion Stipe Miocic or Daniel Cormier, the man who already bested him once.
In fact, it was the only fight I was personally looking forward to, as the card did not contain any other notable names (sorry JDS fans). And boy, did it live up to my expectations!
In a grueling five-round fight, Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier and successfully defended his HW championship for the fourth time – a feat that no other heavyweight in UFC history has managed to achieve. In my opinion, it cements his position as the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
Miocic vs. Cormier 3 – A Treat for MMA Fans
Going into the third fight, Cormier had more to prove as the first fight between him and Miocic ended rather abruptly when he landed that big right. While it was a legitimate punch and he smartly took advantage of Miocic’s weakness of keeping his hands low while breaking up from the clinch, many fans were of the opinion that if the fight had gone on for five rounds, Miocic would have beaten DC, as he was seen by many as the better fighter.
In the rematch, Miocic proved his mettle by finishing DC in a spectacular fashion in the fourth round. Thus, the rubber match between the two was set up.
In the third fight, Miocic was cautious right from the beginning. He used his height and long reach to keep DC at a safe distance and peppered him with jabs and body shots. Still, DC found success with his tried-and-tested technique of faking a takedown and landing one over the top.
The most amazing thing, in my opinion, was Miocic’s ability to absorb some of the shots that DC landed. While the Ngannou fight already proved that Miocic has a titanium chin, watching him absorb those shots without even flinching was incredible.
In the second round, Miocic landed a couple of big shots and nearly finished DC. The challenger was literally saved by the bell and wobbled up to his corner.
Towards the end of the third round, DC was poked in the eye by Miocic, which caused him to complain loudly to the referee. It was quite brutal, as his eye immediately swelled up and looked visibly damaged.
Tired and hurt, DC could not change the course of the fight in the last two rounds. In the end, Miocic won a unanimous decision and managed to retain his HW belt.
Miocic vs. Cormier 3 – The Puzzling Lack of Wrestling
The thing that surprised me the most about the fight was the complete lack of wrestling. DC did not try to wrestle with Miocic, despite the fact that he had great success with his wrestling in the second fight.
Several times during the course of the fight, DC lunged forward, faked a takedown, and tried to land a left or right over the top. It was a nice strategy, as he did manage to land a few bombs on Miocic. However, he did not fully commit to any of his takedown attempts, which was utterly puzzling.
Right from the start, I was hoping for DC to use his bread-and-butter technique – the high-crotch – and take Miocic down. Remember the spectacular slam in the second fight? It did not happen, for whatever reason. I genuinely believe DC could have won this fight if he had managed to get a couple of takedowns.
The Eye Poke Problem
Now, let us address the elephant in the room. Many DC fans are arguing that the eye poke affected DC’s ability to fight in the fourth and fifth rounds and it is why he lost the fight. As unfair as it might sound – it happens.
Remember the first fight? Miocic was poked in the eye by DC and was KO’d a few seconds later. Again in the second fight, Miocic was poked in the eye by DC two times – in the second round as well as the third round. It was so bad that Miocic actually underwent eye surgery after the fight.
Even in the third fight, Miocic was eye poked in the first round. However, he took it in his stride and kept on fighting. So, it is disingenuous, to say the least for DC fans to argue that Miocic won the fight because of the eye poke. If they do, they have to concede that DC managed to win the first fight only because of the eye poke. You can’t have it both ways!
To prevent such controversies, the UFC has to change the design of the gloves or start deducting points for eye pokes. No more stern warnings. You poke your opponent in the eye, you lose a point. The same rule should be applied to groin shots as well.
Stipe Miocic – The Greatest Heavyweight in MMA History
With this win, I firmly believe that Miocic has surpassed the great Fedor Emelianenko and has established himself as the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
Now, some Fedor fans might argue that Miocic has not surpassed the Last Emperor’s impressive 28-fight win streak. In my opinion, it is impossible for any modern-day MMA fighter in any weight class to replicate what Fedor did, due to the quality of opponents they face.
If you look at Miocic’s resume, he has wins over Roy Nelson (when he was considered the scariest KO artist in the division), Mark Hunt (when he was in the middle of an impressive run), Fabricio Werdum (who had just smoked Cain Velasquez), Alistair Overeem (always a dangerous opponent), Junior dos Santos (who had already beaten Miocic once), Francis Ngannou (the most dangerous KO artist in the division right now), and two wins over Cormier, who is a legend in his own right.
No other heavyweight in the UFC, or any other MMA organization for that matter, can claim to have a better resume.
What makes this win even sweeter is the fact that Miocic is a working-class Croatian-American from Ohio and works as a firefighter. A role model in every sense of the word!