UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier Staff Predictions

UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier
Photo Credit: UFC.com

The Octagon travels to Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend, as UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier goes down live on Saturday night, July 7th, from the T-Mobile Arena, airing live on pay-per-view. As is always the case before a big MMA event, MMANews.com has you covered from multiple angles with pre-fight analysis and insight from multiple veteran MMA writers.

MMANews.com staff writers Fernando Quiles Jr., Andrew Ravens, Tim Thompson and Ian Carey will break down the fights scheduled for the main pay-per-view card. Those include the highly-anticipated “champion versus champion” showdown as UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defends his title against the reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier in the main event, as well as a hard-hitting battle of Heavyweights as Francis Ngannou meets Derrick Lewis in the co-main event.

Also featured on the stacked fight card this weekend is Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry in an intriguing Welterweight tilt, Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa in an important Lightweight battle, as well as Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. in the pay-per-view opener.

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  • Light Heavyweight: Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.
  • Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa
  • Welterweight: Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry
  • Heavyweight: Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis
  • Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic (c) vs. Daniel Cormier (HW Title)

UFC 226 STAFF PREDICTIONS

Gokhan Saki (1-1) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (6-2)

Fernando Quiles Jr: Saki struggled in his UFC debut despite earning a first-round knockout win. He blames it on ring rust and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Saki is a threat to anyone at light heavyweight standing and I don’t believe Rountree will be able to keep this one on the ground for long. I’ve got Saki earning a quick finish. (Prediction: Gokhan Saki)

Andrew Ravens: This one is a hard one to pick as Rountree has put up some decent wins but feels as if he has yet to truly find himself. On the flip side, Saki has a ton of kickboxing experience but has only had two MMA fights under his belt. Rountree dominates with his ground and pound that leads him to victory by TKO in the second round. (Prediction: Khalil Rountree Jr.)

Ian Carey: I have to go with Rountree here due to experience. Not that either really have a lot of experience but there is something about a guy fighting on the main card of a UFC event in just his 2nd bout which makes me uneasy. Gokhan Saki is 34 and has already had a full kickboxing career. He won his UFC debut via 1st round knockout last year, but still. He’s had a career of wear and tear in kickboxing and is now beginning is MMA career all over again (he fought once in 2004) in his mid 30s. He even pulled out of this fight back in December because of a knee injury. I don’t really have faith in the non-striking aspects of Saki’s game at this level with his age and experience. Routree via decision. (Prediction: Khalil Rountree Jr)

Tim Thompson: This fight was suppose to go down in September of last year but Saki was forced out with an injury. This fight has the potential to be a slug fest. Saki with his kickboxing background and Rountree with his history of knockouts. The smart play from Rountree would be to come out and close the distance early. Use his size advantage and wear Saki down. Saki has tremendous power in both his hand and legs. We saw in his UFC debut that he has no problem being patient and taking a few in order to set up his power shots. I look for Rountree to come out very aggressive and Saki to use some early counters. In the end Saki will pick him apart and finish Saki in the first. (Prediction: Gokhan Saki)

CONSENSUS: DRAW (2-2)

Anthony Pettis (20-7) vs. Michael Chiesa (14-3)

Fernando: After the UFC 223 madness, we will finally get to see these two go at it. Pettis has seen better days, but he’s been in good spirits leading up to this bout and feels he has gone back to his roots. I don’t think it’ll be enough as Pettis’ body hasn’t been letting him do what his mind wants. I’ve got Chiesa wearing down Pettis on his way to a decision win (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

Andrew Ravens: All signs point to Chiesa winning this fight and I agree. Pettis is not the same fighter that he was as a lightweight champion and has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past few years. Chiesa is someone to keep an eye on and having him score a win over a former champion just keeps moving him up the ranks as he grows towards his real potential. Chiesa pulls out the win by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

Ian Carey: Pettis has lost 5 of his last 7 fights. It’s rare that a fighter bounces back from such a skid, though it has happened. In fact, Andrei Arlovski did it twice! Chiesa wants to bounce back from a tough loss to Kevin Lee and I think he’ll do just that. Something has happened to Pettis to take his fire away. It could have been losing the lightweight title, attempted weight cuts to featherweight, or any other number of things. The trend he is on, however, does not look good. (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

Tim Thompson: These are two guys who are in the primes of their careers and both coming off long layoffs thanks to DollyGate18′. With both men fighting the whose who of the lightweight division, both men suffering a loss in their last fight, and both men always 2 to 3 wins away from a title shot, this fight is perfect. I think this fight comes down to what Anthony Pettis are we going to see? Can he turn back the clock and regain the confidence he had while world champion in 2014? Since losing the belt he has gone 2-4 overall and 1-3 at Lightweight. Chiesa has been a man possessed.Before his loss (that he doesn’t consider a loss), Chiesa was on a 3 fight win streak, but injuries have plagued him. Saturday will be only his second fight since 07/13/2016. This is my front runner for fight of the night. You have two guys in similar points in their career who NEED this win. (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

CONSENSUS: Michael Chiesa (4-0)

Paul Felder (15-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-3)

Fernando: After Max Holloway was forced to pull out of his title defense against Brian Ortega, Felder vs. Perry was promoted to the main card. Both of these men bring a frenetic pace to thier bouts. Felder is more technical, but he is moving up in weight for this fight. Perry will have a strength advantage, but I think technique wins out here. I’ve got Felder frustrating Perry on the feet and avoiding big shots. (Prediction: Paul Felder)

Andrew Ravens: Felder and Perry are on two different spectrum going into this fight. Felder is riding a three-fight win streak, but Perry has dropped his last two fights. You can never count out Perry, and I think he will put up a heck of a fight, but at the end of the day, Felder is on a different planet right now and is putting up a good string of wins to have fans looking out for him to rise up the rankings. Felder gets it done by unanimous decision despite taking this fight on a short-notice. (Prediction: Paul Felder)

Ian Carey: The last 7-8 months of Mike Perry’s life have not been fantastic. He lost in December to Santiago Ponzinibbio and again this March to Max Griffin. After his loss to Griffin, his “Platinum Princess” girlfriend left him after discovering he had a “wandering eye”. Despite extensive research on my part, I cannot seem to find evidence the two have gotten back together. She works as a Tennis pro so is largely out of the sport now, it seems. I feel like Perry will eventually break out of this downward spiral but not quite yet. Felder is on a 3-fight winning streak and similarly, his upward spiral seems as though it has more left in it. (Prediction: Paul Felder)

Tim Thompson: MAN! Just a few days ago we didn’t even know how much we needed this fight in our lives. It goes from non existent to being on the main card of the pay-per view. A big opportunity for both men. Smart money tell you to take Felder. A crafty veteran who should be able to implement a similar game plan as Max Griffin and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Stay away from Perry’s power and pick up the decision and his 4th straight win. Felder just doesn’t seem like that guy. After having his opponent pulled in each of his fights this year, he anxious to get back in there. He is coming off a 2017 with 3 knockout victories and he understands now is the time to make that push for a title. Note Perry made some changes himself and spent part of his camp at Jackson-Wink in Albuquerque, NM. Something you like to see when a fighter is coming off back to back losses. Can he control his aggression and not gas early? (Prediction: Paul Felder)

CONSENSUS: Paul Felder (4-0)

Francis Ngannou (11-2) vs. Derrick Lewis (19-5)

Fernando: If this bout is a snoozer then all hell has frozen over. Ngannou and Lewis are two of the most feared power punchers in the UFC. They’ve both been criticized for their cardio, but still remain as top ranked UFC heavyweights. I think Lewis will get tagged first and he won’t be able to weather the storm. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

Andrew Ravens: A big question will be answered in this fight, and that’s how did Ngannou rebound after his devastating loss to Stipe Miocic in his previous fight. Did he work on cardio, wrestling, and takedown defense? The belief going into this one is a slugfest that will be over in the first round. I see it differently as Lewis is a smart fighter and will clash it out with Ngannou, but once it heads into the second round, Lewis will go for the takedown and get it then land some big shots on the ground to pick up the TKO victory. Not the most popular belief but likely. (Prediction: Derrick Lewis)

Ian Carey: We saw last time out that Ngannou doesn’t do well outside of the opening moments of a fight. If he wants to win this fight against Lewis he better have worked on his cardio. We also don’t know how Lewis will respond now that Ronda Rousey has been inducted into the Hall of Fame and fully left the UFC for WWE. Perhaps Lewis will be too despondent even to compete. Ngannou is still the monster he was before the Stipe fight; He’ll knock out the Black Beast in round #1. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

Tim Thompson: This fight has been a long time in the making . These two have been on a collision course since they came into the UFC. A win for either here sets them up nicely in the title picture. I don’t think there is a lot of analysis on this fight so I will keep it short and sweet just like I believe the fight will be. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

CONSENSUS: Francis Ngannou (3-1)

Stipe Miocic (18-2) vs. Daniel Cormier (20-1)

Fernando: I’ve been going back-and-forth on this bout for weeks. Cormier has never been defeated at heavyweight. Miocic is the most dominant heavyweight in recent memory. While Cormier has the wrestling ability to take anyone down, I don’t see Miocic staying on his back. I think Miocic gets back up one too many times and finishes Cormier on the feet. (Prediction: Stipe Miocic)

Andrew Ravens: An intriguing fight with both fighters having an advantage in different aspects of this fight. It all comes down to two things. If Cormier can get the heavyweight champion down, can he keep him there? If that’s the case, then Miocic is in for a long night and potential loss. Wrestling and ground control is what needs to happen for DC in order for him to make history and win this fight. Miocic must use his takedown defense and keep things standing while he implies his boxing to retain this title. DC has only lost to one fighter in his pro-MMA career, which was to Jon Jones twice and I don’t see that changing after Saturday night. DC wins this fight by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Daniel Cormier)

Ian Carey: Stipe comes into most of his fights the underdog and proves everyone wrong. I picked against him when it came to his fights with Ngannou and Overeem so I’m not sure how to feel about this one. This fight Miocic comes in as a -220 favorite which I almost want to say is a reaction to him being favored to lose so often. Cormier can out wrestle Stipe and a likely outcome here is he spends most of the fight on top of the champ. On the other hand, we know Stipe can knockout Cormier on account of Stipe can knock anyone out. Cormier is well adept at not taking damage, however. While a part of me is certain Stipe will burn me again, I’m taking Cormier to win a decision. (Prediction: Daniel Cormier)

Tim Thompson: I have gone back and forth on this fight 100 times. It is so difficult as both men seem to be genuinely nice people to go along with being dominant athletes. It all comes down to Cormier’s take down. Can he get Stipe to the ground? According to Fight Metric Stipe has stopped 75% of the take downs thrown his way. On the other side you have Stipe Miocic who possesses the sneakiest power in the game. Before the Ngannou fight Stipe had finished 5 fights in a row and has been on the most dominant run in UFC Heavyweight history. Only one man has stopped DC, but not officially. Regardless of how this unfolds this is the biggest fight the UFC could make right now. Love getting this type of vibe during international fight week. (Prediction: Stipe Miocic)

CONSENSUS: DRAW (2-2)


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What are your thoughts on the above predictions and fight breakdowns? What are your predictions for UFC 226? Sound off in the Comments section below, and make sure to join us here at MMANews.com and via Twitter @mmanews_com for the best UFC Liverpool results coverage.