Earlier this week the MMA world was taken by surprise when the UFC announced that the main event of UFC 226 will be a superfight between UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. The two champions, who are each fresh off of one-sided victories at UFC 220 over Francis Ngannou and Volkan Oezdemir, respectively, will first coach the new season of The Ultimate Fighter before locking horns in what is sure to be a blockbuster pay-per-view this summer.
Generally, while superfights are a whole lot of fun for the fans, they oftentimes hold up two divisions. We’ve seen that in the recent past with Conor McGregor holding up 145 and 155 to take fights with Nate Diaz at 170 and Floyd Mayweather in boxing. We’ve also seen that with Georges St-Pierre skipping the line to fight Michael Bisping for the 185 belt at UFC 217.
Superfights are no doubt a big deal, and the UFC is well within their rights to book these big fights as they are often big sellers at the box office. At the same time, though, this is a competitive sport and booking superfights often puts other deserving title contenders and their careers at a standstill.
That’s what makes the Miocic vs. Cormier matchup at UFC 226 so unique. It’s a rare superfight that doesn’t hold up two divisions since heavyweight nor light heavyweight have clear-cut No. 1 contenders. If you look at Miocic, he’s already beaten the majority of the heavyweight top-10, with perhaps only Cain Velasquez being a realistic opponent who he hasn’t fought yet. But Velasquez hasn’t fought in nearly two years, and it didn’t make sense to throw him into a title fight considering his injury history. So there really wasn’t anyone else that made sense for Miocic to fight.
And that’s why Cormier is so intriguing, because he’s a very valid opponent considering his past success as a heavyweight in Strikeforce, where he won the Grand Prix. As well, Cormier has essentially cleared out 205, with perhaps only a fight against the aging Glover Teixeira being a fresh matchup that made any sort of sense considering Jon Jones is on the USADA shelf. So it makes a lot of sense to do this rare champion vs. champion matchup.
Not only does Miocic vs. Cormier not hold up two divisions, but it’s such an intriguing fight from a pure matchmaking perspective. Miocic has tremendous striking skills to go along with an effective grappling game, while Cormier possesses an elite wrestling attack to go along with underrated standup. Considering both guys just fought on the same card and both could use some rest, the fact they are coaching TUF before they fight doesn’t hold up their divisions since they wouldn’t have fought until the summer, anyways.
From nearly every point of view, the Miocic vs. Cormier makes sense. The booking also gives both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions time to build new contenders in the meantime. The UFC looks like it hit a home run out of the part by getting these two champions to fight each other in a rare superfight that makes sense. Now let’s just hope neither fighter gets injured and makes it to UFC 226 unscathed.
Do you like the Miocic vs. Cormier matchup? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the fight.