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What’s at Stake at UFC 252?

MMA’s biggest stage only hosts trilogies every few years, so each and every one is a big deal. When a title is on the line, the bout is a must see: Cormier vs Miocic is just that. For certain if Stipe beats Cormier, he will be the most decorated Heavyweight in UFC history. He will be one of few two-time champions in the UFC. He will also have the most title defenses in a row and the most total title defenses in the division’s history. For all of these reasons, fans rightfully argue that Stipe is already the greatest heavyweight of all time at UFC 252.

Daniel Cormier’s situation however is very different. There are two reputations that have been proposed in which to define Daniel Cormier’s legacy. Each seemed premature when they were first put forth and they still do.

A post shared by Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) on Aug 6, 2020 at 12:42pm PDT

First, many argue that Daniel Cormier is already one of the greatest fighters of all time. While his legacy is impressive, it does not put Cormier in what Luke Thomas describes as “The Upper Room”.

Cormier has not beaten anyone that proved he was even the best, anywhere in MMA other than Stipe. DC’s run at Light Heavyweight showed great longevity. He finished a lot of top guys in the division. Additionally, he only lost to Jon Jones at Light Heavyweight which is nothing to be ashamed of.

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on Jan 9, 2020 at 11:11am PST

Cormier’s Legacy at Light Heavyweight

Let’s look at Cormier’s notable wins at Light Heavyweight one by one. Anthony Johnson was a good win. However, Cormier did what we all knew was possible to do to Johnson; DC weathered the big shots, turned up the pace and made Johnson quit. The loss was something we have seen multiple fighters do to Johnson throughout his career such as Josh Koscheck.

Cormier went on to defeat Gustafsson in a very close battle and really showed how talented he could be against someone tall, strong and quick in Gustafsson. Jon Jones, Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson had already defeated Gustafsson though so we knew Gustafsson was beatable.

Tonight I won the ESPY for the best mma fighter, this is insane. I never would have thought I would ever get nominated for something like this. I have a great support system and they’re the reason things like this happen. Salina, you’re the glue that keeps this family rolling. To @crazybobcook and @dewaynezinkin you guys have been the best managers I could ever ask for. @akajav the best Head Coach in the business, @rosendo_sanchez , @slikbxr ,@camacho100, @leandrovbteam there is no staff in mma that compares. To my partners each and every one of you have built me from the ground up, special shout out to @officialcainvelasquez and @lukerockhold my brothers who have been there every step of the way. Cassandra and Heidi, all you do is recognized and appreciated greatly, I promise. All my competitors, I appreciate every one of you. The Jones rivalry has stood out above em all and have helped me to gain popularity that many people can’t imagine. And you the fans, you’ve loved me, cheered me and boo’d me, but you cared. It takes a village, I’m just a kid from the Northside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Amazing. Thank you all. I love you DC

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on Jul 10, 2019 at 5:04pm PDT

Anderson Silva was old and past his prime, and a middleweight. Daniel laid on top of him in an underwhelming bout at UFC 200. To top it off, Cormier never defeated Jon Jones -the lineal Light Heavyweight champion- so Cormier’s title defenses mean relatively little in the division’s history. It was a nice interim title run.

Cormier’s Legacy at Heavyweight

In Strikeforce Daniel burst onto the scene as an unlikely contender for the belt let alone champion. None of those men were considered or went on to be top Heavyweights within the next few years. Cormier then ran out the clock against Frank Mir in a performance most were disappointed with considering Mir was on the decline and on his way to Bellator at the time.

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on May 19, 2020 at 10:38am PDT

The win against Roy Nelson was expected and unimpressive but it was still a good win against a good contender. The same goes for DC’s defeat of Derick Lewis. So here Cormier has four Heavyweight victories in the UFC and one title defense compared to Stipe’s five title victories and three straight title defenses.

A win over Stipe will be a great notch in Cormier’s belt, but two victories over a GOAT does not make a fighter a GOAT automatically. This fact is demonstrated in Chris Weidman’s victories over Anderson Silva in his prime.

What Stipe has to Prove

A post shared by Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:54am PDT

Ultimately, Stipe is fighting to prove much more on Saturday than Daniel Cormier could hope to. When making predictions for the winner at UFC 252 consider the shape that Cormier came in, in his last bout. Also consider how much weight Cormier gained after that loss. I have to question his level of motivation and discipline compared to Stipe’s. Stipe came in lean last time and looks even leaner now. He is also younger, in better condition, more decorated and has more time in the sport to compete for titles and vanquish contenders.  

Stipe Miocic seems more likely to be victorious on Saturday and has a better legacy both in the sport and in the UFC’s Heavyweight division, so if there are any more questions about him, winning this trilogy will cement him as the greatest Heavyweight the UFC and arguably this sport has ever seen. ■

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