Saturday night, the UFC provided another historic night for both the company and the sport. In the main event, Stipe Miocic (20-3 15KO) defended his heavyweight championship for the fourth time (most in UFC heavyweight history) against former two-division world champion Daniel Cormier (22-3 10KO).
Tension and anticipation filled the homes of millions watching as the emotional trilogy between two of the sport’s greatest fighters began. The fight began similarly to the heavyweights’ second bout – last year – with both fighters being calculated, yet aggressive. Unlike on that night, however, Miocic started the fight utilizing the masterful body shots – that he used to take over the fourth round of their second fight – to set the tone early. Cormier changed it up a bit as well and landed a takedown in the opening round – contrasting his refusal to use his Olympic-level wrestling in their last fight.
As the fight went on, each fighter seemed to abandon both of those fight-changing tools and seemed content landing leg kicks and throwing right hands with malicious intentions. Cormier landed several right hooks upon exiting the clinch, that were similar to the one that he used to knock Miocic out in their first meeting, but this time Stipe wore them well and landed some impactful right hands and combinations of his own.
At the end of the second round, Stipe landed a massive right hand that sent Cormier to the canvas. Cormier was, seemingly, saved by the bell and struggled to make it to his stool. As he returned to his corner, he looked to have trouble seeing and balancing, but as the third round began, he looked like the same fighter that began the fight. The fight remained razor-close but Stipe controlled a good portion of the round and continued using his impressive boxing to control the exchanges.
An exchange at the end of a close third round led to a gruesome accidental poke to the eye of Cormier, who lashed out at referee Marc Goddard for not allowing him to take a break and looked very uncomfortable. Cormier fought through the discomfort and put on an impressive fourth round, but Miocic displayed his grappling skills, controlling Cormier in the clinch for parts of the fourth round and most of the fifth.
The night ended with Bruce Buffer announcing a unanimous decision victory for Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic who Dana White declared “The greatest heavyweight of all time” following the bout. White also announced that Miocic will be defending his title against the division’s most terrifying fighter, Francis N’Gannou (15-3 11KO) next, who Miocic defeated via unanimous decision in 2018.
Cormier said that he couldn’t see out of his left eye in his post-fight interview and cited the eye poke as the reason. Shortly after that, he announced his retirement, declaring “I’m not interested in fighting for anything but titles and I don’t imagine there’s going to be a title in the future so, that will be it for me” Sunday morning Cormier confirmed that he suffered a torn cornea but wouldn’t need surgery per his doctor.
In the co-main event, Marlon “Chito” Vera (16-6 6KO) defeated “Sugar” Sean O’Malley (12-1 8KO) via TKO in the first round. O’Malley, a large favorite going into this fight, brought a world of hype as he has captured millions of fans in, and outside of the sport. Vera spoiled the party, however, landing a leg kick on a, seemingly, previously injured ankle of O’Malley who was left nearly immobile for the remainder of the round. O’Malley attempted to feint at a kick but twisted his ankle before collapsing to the canvas and welcoming Vera to grapple. Shortly after, Vera landed 3 crushing elbows from O’Mally’s full guard, that snapped his head back and forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. Vera reestablished himself as a contender in the bantamweight division and looks to create another win streak after his previous streak (five fights) was ended by a very controversial decision loss to Yadong Song (16-4 6KO) in May
The extent of O’Mally’s injury has yet to be announced.
Full fight results:
Stipe Miocic def. Daniel Cormier via UD
Marlon Vera def. Sean O’Malley via TKO round 1
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Junior Dos Santos via KO round 2
Daniel Pineda def. Herbert Burns via TKO round 2
Merab Dvalishvili def. John Dodson via UD
Vinc Pichel def. Jim Miller via UD
Virna Jandiroba def. Felice Herrig via Submission round 1
Danny Chavez def. Tj Brown via UD
Livinha Souza def. Ashley Yoder via UD
Chris Daukaus def. Parker Porter via KO round 1
Kai Kamaka III def. Tony Kelley via UD