Dubai: When Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic clash for the third time in the main event at UFC 252 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, they are not there just to settle the debate on who is the better heavyweight.
At stake are legacies. But perhaps more significantly the fight will determine who is the Greatest Of All time (GOAT) at 206-265lb MMA’s most explosive weight class.
Cormier, 41, has said that this will be the last fight of his career, and he aims to exit the sport that has shaped his whole life, victorious.
“This fight allows me to have a chance to go out on top, a chance to be the champion again,” he told ESPN. “I believe this fight is to crown the best heavyweight fighter of all time.
“But I do believe that any time they make a shortlist of guys they consider the greatest fighters of all time, I have to be in the conversation. That’s all you can really hope for — that your accomplishments stand tall next to anybody’s.”
Professional MMA record: 22-2-0
Gym: American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)
First Professional Fight: May 25, 2009 (UFC debut 2013)
Stipe Miocic: Age 37
Professional MMA record: 19-3-0
Gym: Strong Style Fight Team
First Fight: March 10, 2010 (UFC debut 2011)
Streak: 1 win (TKO over Cormier in 2019)
But Cormier, who has for long watched some of the greatest fighters and fights from close quarters in his role as expert commentator for the UFC, knows the severity of the task on hand, having suffered a savage fourth-round TKO against Miocic when they last fought in August 2019.
In the first fight in July 2018 Cormier had dealt Miocic a first-round knockout.
But a lot of water has passed under the bridge since that first meeting and Miocic is currently at his brutal best.
“It’s all on the line here. If Stipe wins, he’s the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time,” acknowledged Cormier. “If I win, I’m the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. These kinds of fights don’t happen very often. It’s a massive deal. It’s exactly where I want to be.”
Commenting on how he views the trilogy will pan out, Miocic told MMA Fighting: “Three years of it I guess. Every fight’s different, he’s got a different game plan
“It’s what I do. It’s part of the game. I’m a competitive person and I love competition. This is it. After this and we’re done with the trilogy. Finally it’s over. The trilogy is over.”
Despite the fierce rivalry he has shared with Cormier, Miocic showed a lot of respect to the older fighter and said: “He’s a great fighter. That guy keeps coming, he doesn’t stop.
“There’s a reason he’s at the top. He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s going to bring it again here on Saturday. I’m ready for it.
“I’ve got no bad blood towards him. Not at all,” Miocic said. “I’m going out with the belt around my waist but I’ll definitely shake his hand say it was a hell of a time.”
Beside the main event UFC 252 features 10 action-packed fights.
UFC 252 Main Card
Stipe Miocic v Daniel Cormier
Sean O’Malley v Marlon Vera
Junior Dos Santos v Jairzinho Rozenstruik
John Dodson v Merab Dvalishvili
Herbert Burns v Daniel Pineda
Jim Miller v Vinc Pachel
Felice Herrig v Virna Jandiroba
TJ Brown v Danny Chaves
Ashley Yoder v Livinha Souza
Chris Daukaus v Parker Porter
Kai Kamaka v Tony Kelley
When: Saturday, August 14
Preliminaries: 7pm (2am Sunday UAE)
Main Card: 10pm ET (5am)
Broadcast: ESPN/Fight Pass, UFC Arabia