Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Winner of Miocic vs. Cormier Enters MMA GOAT Discussion

The card of the year goes down this Saturday night when UFC 226 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. On paper the card is absolutely stacked from top to bottom with two title fights and a number of other intriguing and exciting matchups featuring many of the best MMA fighters in the world. But even though it’s a stacked card, there’s no doubt the most important bout on the card is the main event of the evening. That’s when UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic puts his belt on the line against UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a true superfight that could potentially have huge ramifications on the greatest of all time (GOAT) discussion in MMA.

Since making his UFC debut back in 2011, Miocic has been an absolute stud in Octagon. The 35-year-old Ohio native went 6-0 on the regional circuit before making his UFC debut against Joey Beltran back at UFC 136. Miocic won that fight, but it was a decision and not the kind of fight that screamed future champion. Back-to-back knockout wins over Phil de Fries and the late Shane Del Rosario showed how much promise Miocic had, and it earned him his first UFC main event against Stefan Struve. Miocic started off well against Struve but faded badly and was knocked out in the second round by a guy in Struve who is not known for his knockout power.

Again, it was not a performance that screamed future champion, but Miocic was able to quickly bounce back with an impressive win over Roy Nelson. He then beat Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabio Maldonado to set up a fight against Junior dos Santos, who at the time was probably the second-best heavyweight in the world behind Cain Velasquez. Miocic gave JDS all that he could handle and although he lost a close decision, it was the kind of breakthrough performance that made you think there was something really special in Miocic.

Since the loss to JDS, Miocic has been unstoppable and the transformation from contender to champion has been completed. Since losing to JDS in 2014, Miocic is a perfect 6-0 with knockout wins over the likes of Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, JDS in the rematch and a decision over Francis Ngannou. His current win streak is among the most impressive of any fighter in the sport right now, and Miocic looks like he’s just behind Fedor Emelianenko in the heavyweight GOAT discussion. He’s nearly cleaned out the UFC heavyweight division, with perhaps just a fight against Velasquez the only one needed to prove he’s the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever step into the Octagon. But with Velasquez still injured, Miocic is now being matched up with the next-best option, and that’s a fight against Velasquez’s long-time training partner in Cormier.

Cormier, the 39-year-old native of Louisiana, is moving up to heavyweight for the first time since 2013 when he takes on Miocic this weekend in a fight that could cement his own legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time. Cormier entered MMA in 2009 and started off his career with 13-straight wins in the heavyweight division. He won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix with a dominant victory over Josh Barnett and it was obvious back then that DC was just a natural in MMA after a long and successful career as a wrestler.

Cormier was signed to the UFC after the fall of Strikeforce and picked up two dominant wins over Nelson and Frank Mir. But with Velasquez holding the UFC heavyweight belt at the time, Cormier decided instead to move to light heavyweight. Back-to-back finishes over Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson helped earn Cormier a shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, but Cormier would drop a decision for the first loss of his career. But when Jones was stripped of his title, Cormier went and submitted Anthony Johnson to win the vacant title, and then he strung together three more wins over Alexander Gustafsson, Anderson Silva and Johnson again.

That earned DC another shot at Jones, and while he put up a good fight he was brutally knocked out via head kick at UFC 214 to lose his belt, only to see it return to him when Jones was stripped and suspended yet again after a USADA violation. Cormier then went and defended his belt against Volkan Oezdemir, and with Jones still out, the UFC went and gave Cormier the opportunity for DC to move up heavyweight for a superfight against Miocic, giving DC the chance to become a rare two-division champion in the UFC.

With a win for Miocic, it would be tough not to call him the best heavyweight in UFC history, and maybe the best ever in MMA besides possibly Fedor. Miocic already has an amazing resume, but a win over Cormier would help his argument even more. As for Cormier, he’s already one of the best ever at both heavyweight and light heavyweight, but if he can go out there and beat Miocic to win a second UFC title in a second weight class, it would put him in the upper echelon of elite fighters in MMA lore. Both guys are amazing fighters and win-or-lose will still be considered two of the best in the sport, but a win for both men is imperative to each’s chances to join the GOAT discussion in MMA.

The term GOAT is no doubt thrown around too often in MMA circles, but just looking at what both Miocic and Cormier have accomplished in this sport, it’s hard to argue with the results. And neither man is done just yet. MMA is a funny game. One day Miocic is having a hard time putting away a guy like Beltran and Cormier is just an alternate in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, then a few years later both men might be part of the GOAT discussion in this crazy sport that we all know and love. UFC 226 is going to be a special card, and Miocic vs. Cormier is going to be one incredible fight with huge consequences when it comes to the discussion of the greatest fighter in MMA history. It’s a true superfight, and it’s one no MMA fan should miss.

Does a win for either man put them in GOAT talks?

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