UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 Preview

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Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic meet for the third time in the Octagon this weekend.

Daniel Cormier evades a blow from Stipe Miocic

It’s not often that we get to see a ‘3’, as in “Miocic vs Cormier 3”, after a fight listing, but Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier is not your average rivalry. This will indeed by their third meeting in the UFC cage, and the third time that they will be fighting each other for the most coveted title in the sport of mixed martial arts – the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Add in the fact that the two of them were each knocked out by the other in their first two meetings, and you’ve got yourself a very special fight.

A very special fight that is very difficult to predict a winner in, however. So, not surprisingly, we’ve got super tight odds – Cormier is currently at 5/6 and Miocic and 10/11. With Saturday’s UFC 252 being, for all intents and purposes, a ‘one fight’ card, let’s dive a little bit deeper into this historical main event, one that could arguably crown the “Greatest Heavyweight Fighter of All-Time”.

Tale of the Tape

In terms of the Tale of the Tape, the current champ Miocic sweeps all the categories. He’s five inches taller, three years younger, and has eight inches of reach on the challenger. Their striking stats are eerily similar, with both men sharing a 52% striking accuracy rate and a 56% strikes defended rate, and Miocic lands just 0.7 strikes per minute more than Cormier, so that’s basically a wash also. The only discernable difference in striking is Cormier gets hit almost one time less per minute than Miocic. While both men have knockout power, Miocic’s is far more pronounced, with 15 of his 19 pro wins coming via KO, while DC’s numbers are only 10 for 22. Miocic has been knocked out twice (by Cormier and Stefan Struve), while Cormier has only been stopped by Miocic.

Striking Battle Looms

The main striking advantage that Miocic should capitalize on is utilizing his superior length to stay away from wrestle-heavy Cormier’s clinch. He discovered that last fight to great results. But, more importantly than that, he also discovered that Cormier’s soft midsection is prime picking for strikes – he battered the then-champ with body shots, helping set up his knockout.

On the ground Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler, so he’s got the advantage there. However, in their two previous encounters, Miocic took the Olympian down twice with Cormier only landing one takedown. This fight is more than likely to remain a striking battle with their wrestling skills cancelling each other out.

Fighting Smarts

The wildcard here is the mental game – which fighter will fight smart and stick to his gameplan? Both guys have shown in their past clashes with each other that they are prone to throw everything out the window and fight dumb in the heat of the moment. And both guys were made to pay for it, with Cormier knocking out Miocic in their first meeting, and Miocic returning the favour last summer.

So, who am I picking? I’m leaning ever-so-slightly to the current champ, Miocic. He found a proven path to victory last fight – keep Cormier at bay and attack his body – and there is no reason he can’t ride that to another victory on Saturday night.

Undercard Tips

As for the rest of the card, I like undefeated prospect Sean O’Malley over Marlon Vera in the co-main event, but not at 4/13. I think heavyweight slugger Jairzinho Rozenstruik (20/29) will beat former champ Junior dos Santos, and Bigi Boy via KO at 10/11 looks good considering how hard he hits and the fact that JDS has been TKO’d in his last two fights and has a suspect chin. Another prop bet I’m high on is Jim Miller via submission over Vinc Pichel at 11/4*. Miller is a submission wizard and Pichel was submitted the last time he fought a grappler.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Jeff Fox offers expert insight into the world of MMA & UFC betting from his years of experience in the industry. His work has appeared in publications such as SI.com, St Louis Post-Dispatch, SLAM, Fighters Only Magazine & FIGHT!, among many others. Jeff shares his UFC betting tips with MansionBet readers on a weekly basis.
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