CLEVELAND — UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier believes that Cleveland native Stipe Miocic is a good mixed martial artist, but can he take the belt off the very man who knocked him out in the first round of their super-fight at UFC 226 in Las Vegas last summer?
Cormier does not think so.
“I understand that he’s going to be better, but when I think about the fight and the little bit of time we fought before, I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat me,” Cormier said at the UFC summer press conference ahead of UFC 239. “I just don’t. I think he’s a good champion. I think he’s a good fighter. I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat me. Whether it’s 25 minutes, two rounds, I’m still going to win the fight.”
Cormier reluctantly took the rematch with Miocic despite wanting to fight former UFC champion Brock Lesnar, who stormed into the octagon following the UFC 226 main event to shove the newly crowned titleholder and call out the entire heavyweight division.
However, after that display, the bout fell through when Lesnar elected to return to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., and initially, that did not sit well with “DC,” a future hall of famer in the twilight of his MMA career.
“I’ve always said the guy did some great things when he fought and defended the heavyweight title, so he would get a rematch if I didn’t fight Brock,” Cormier said of Miocic.
“Now, would I have preferred to see him fight again since the last time? Yes, but he didn’t choose to fight for the last year and it paid off for him and he gets the rematch. He gets a chance to fight me again, and it’s going to be the same result.”
Despite taking a thumb to the left eye on an attempted shove from the challenger early in the bout, Miocic felt he was winning for much of the first round against Cormier in what was his fourth defense of the UFC heavyweight championship.
However, out of a clinch, Cormier faked an uppercut, came over the top with a right-handed strike and floored the defending champion. With Miocic on the canvas, Cormier pounced and landed multiple strikes before the referee called a stop to the contest.
The loss brought to an end Miocic’s record-setting run to the most consecutive successful defenses of the heavyweight championship. Miocic is 18-3-0 in his professional career heading into the Cormier rematch, including a 12-3 mark since joining the UFC in 2011.
And Miocic is very much looking forward to getting back to the top of the mountain and reclaiming not only the heavyweight championship, but also, the moniker of “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
“I’ve got my mind right and I’m walking out with that belt wrapped around my waist, no question,” Miocic said.