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UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 - Aug 15 🇺🇸

Who wins and how?   

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On Saturday 15th August we’re back at the APEX in Vegas. Small cage, big fight. 

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PPV MAIN CARD
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier - Heavyweight Title

Junior Dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba 

Frankie Edgar vs Pedro Munhoz 

Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
John Dodson vs Merab Dvalishvili

Livia Renata Souza vs Ashley Yoder 

Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba 

Rogerio Bontorin vs Manel Kape
 

That’s some card, isn’t it? It’s top heavy, not massively into the prelims they’ve announced so far (with one exception) but there’ll be more added yet. That main card is a banger though. All 5 fights could’ve been my ‘one to watch’ there. I like that it’ll be at the APEX as well in the smaller cage. These fights would be good in any cage but I think we’re getting the absolute best out of them at the APEX. 


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Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier 3! The big one. For all the marbles. The trilogy decider. The war to settle the score. Finally. This feels like it’s been a long time coming. And from what I can gather, win or lose, this is most likely going to be DC’s swansong. His initial plan was to be retired by the time he hit 40, so March 2019, but injuries and different obstacles delayed it. This is what he said earlier this year...

“You ever see a carton of milk and there’s an expiration date? Mine was supposed to be last year. So I’m sour, man, I’m sour. You don’t wanna drink me or put me on your cereal. You know, I just wanna fight the guy, get my belt back and be done. That’s what I wanna do.” - Daniel Cormier

So that’s that. I’m glad we’re getting this rubber match first though. It’s been quite a series so far but it‘s 1-1 and needs settling. I’m going back to the beginning on this bitch. It’s been a long hard road to the top for both men.

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Cormier was born in 1979 in Lafayette, Louisiana. From very early on in life, he had it tough. When he was just 7 years old his Dad was shot and killed. In high school he got into amateur wrestling and excelled at it. His record when he left school was 101-9 with 89 by pinfall. He continued to succeed as a wrestler to the point where in 2001 he was a Division I All American and was only denied the gold medal because Cael Sanderson was standing across the mat in the finals. He did win gold at the Pan American Games in 2002 and 2003. He then represented the USA at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, coming 4th, and was also part of the US Olympic team in Beijing in 2008. Olympic gold eluded him but he had quite a career as an amateur.

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As if losing his Dad as a kid wasn’t enough tragedy, in 2003 his 3 month old daughter Kaedyn was killed in a car accident. This clip of Cormier talking about it on that ESPN Documentary (that I’ve just realised I still haven’t watched) is heartbreaking;

Can’t even imagine. 3 months old. I genuinely think it would finish me if something like that happened to my daughter or my boy.

After a disastrous 2008 Olympics where he couldn’t compete and almost died from kidney failure due to weight cutting, he decided his days as an amateur wrestler were over and focused his attention towards MMA. He joined the American Kickboxing Academy and started training under Javier Mendez and Bob Cook alongside top MMA fighters of the time like Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Mike Swick and rising Heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez.

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😂

Stipe Miocic was born in Ohio in August 1982. The son of Croatian immigrants. He got into sports at a young age and was a pretty decent baseball player from the sounds of it. As he got older he trained in boxing and wrestling and did well in both. He became a Golden Gloves champ, which Bobby Heenan would dismiss as “amateur punk stuff”, and was a NCAA Division I wrestler. He seemed to be one of those athletic guys who could turn his hand to any sport he set his sights on. It just so happened that, with his success in boxing and wrestling, giving MMA a shot obviously seemed like a good idea.

2009: Cormier makes his MMA debut on a Strikeforce Challengers card in his old stomping grounds of Oklahoma, and TKOs some fucker called Gary Frazier in the second round.

2010: Stipe debuts in February for a local promotion in Cleveland called NAAFS. By December he’s already 4-0 with 4 knockouts. Cormier fights 5 times and finishes all 5 opponents, all in the first round. Most notable among them being former UFC and Pride fighter Soa Palelei and the boxer Lucas Browne who you’ll probably know from the time he got flattened by Dillian Whyte on Sky a couple of years back.

2011: A big year for Stipe. He wins 2 more fights in the NAAFS promotion, becoming their Heavyweight champion.

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And from there he got his big break. The UFC came calling. His Octagon debut went down in October at UFC 136. He fought Joey Beltran that night and won a unanimous decision. I remember seeing him for the first time and liking him solely because he wore the old Cro Cop shorts. Nothing else really stood out about him at this time though.

DC had a bit of a breakthrough year himself. He beat Devin Cole in January and then veteran Jeff Monson in June in a reserve bout for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. But he got a lucky break when Alistair Overeem pulled out of his semi final fight with Bigfoot Silva and, as the reserve, Cormier got the spot. He was giving up a lot of size and experience, not to mention he took the fight on short notice. But in the end it didn’t matter. He knocked Bigfoot out in a round and advanced to the finals.

2012: The year starts off really well for Stipe. He finishes Phil De Fries in just 43 seconds in February then stops Shane Del Rosario in May. But in September, he suffers his first career setback when Stefan Struve TKOs him in Nottingham. Cormier only fights once but it’s a big ‘un.

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The Strikeforce GP came to a conclusion as Cormier took on Josh Barnett. It turned out to be a gruelling 5 round battle and Cormier came out on top. This was the real turning point for me becoming a believer in DC. Of course, the Bigfoot KO was impressive but going 25 minutes with Josh Barnett and winning convincingly was big at the time. That fight answered some questions on Cormier. Going into 2013, Miocic is 9-1, Cormier is 10-0.

2013: Stipe only fights once but he’s back to winning ways with a clear cut points victory over Roy Nelson. Cormier has one more fight in Strikeforce, a TKO over Dion Staring, but the UFC was taking over by then and DC was Octagon bound. He fights twice in the UFC by the end of the year, racking up decisions over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson.

2014: Miocic gets 3 fights in. Outpoints Gabriel Gonzaga in January and batters Fabio Maldonado in a complete mismatch in May. Then in December he goes 5 rounds in an absolute war with Junior Dos Santos on FOX.

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Seriously, it’s kind of forgotten now but it was a fucking great fight. Close one too. But on the night, JDS got the nod, handing Stipe his second loss. For Cormier, he breezed through Patrick Cummins in about a minute in February and submitted Dan Henderson at UFC 173 in May. The story of DC’s 2014 wasn’t in the cage though.

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It was where the Jon Jones rivalry really began. They’d actually taken a disliking to each other after initially crossing paths backstage at the Velasquez vs Lesnar fight back in 2010. Then they took jabs at each other in interviews occasionally. But it never really got heated until the summer of 2014. Alexander Gustafsson had pulled out of his scheduled rematch with Jones and DC got the call to replace him. You know the rest. One media face off later and all hell was breaking loose.

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“Hey pussy are you still there?” - Jon Jones

From that day on they were arch rivals.

2015: Once again, Stipe rebounds impressively from defeat. He only fights once but he totally dominates Mark Hunt and gets the late TKO. The Cormier and Jones clash took place in January and, although very competitive in spells, in the end Jones won pretty clearly.

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But Jones being Jones, managed to cock it all up and got himself stripped of the title. In his absence, DC bounced back in style and the rest of his 2015 was some of his best stuff. In May he weathered the Rumble Johnson storm, survived a knockdown and came back to break and submit Rumble to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Then in October, he beat Gustafsson in a 5 round classic.

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Another tremendous fight that seems to be forgotten now. Well worth a look if you’ve got Fight Pass and you’ve never seen it. Trust me.

2016: Super Stipe arrives. He takes just 54 seconds to knock out Andrei Arlovski in January. Then in May he gets the opportunity he’s been working towards his whole career. A UFC title shot. Only problem was he’d have to face champion Fabricio Werdum, in his backyard in Brazil. No bother for Stipe.

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Werdum ran right at Stipe and less than 3 minutes later he was on his arse asking the ref what just happened.

Stipe was the new UFC Heavyweight champion. If you didn’t already know that, him repeatedly bellowing “I’M THE WORLD CHAMP!” after the fight should’ve clued you in. He followed that up with another spectacular knockout in his first title defence against Overeem in September. A massive year for him. Looking back, it really feels like he turned a corner with that 5 rounds against JDS. He was on fire after that and seemed to grow in confidence each time out. Cormier only fought once in 2016. He was supposed to rematch a returning Jones at UFC 200 but Jones fucked it all up again and DC ended up blanketing Anderson Silva in a bit of a snoozer on the yellow canvas.

2017: Stipe’s reign continues as he avenges his loss to JDS emphatically with a vicious first round TKO. Cormier weathers yet another Rumble Johnson storm and submits him again in April.

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Cormier vs Jones 2 finally happens at UFC 214 in July. And after a 2 round battle, Jones kicks his head off in the third.

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Go on, David. Have your moment.

It would eventually get overturned to a No Contest because picograms. But nobody is going to remember that years down the line are they? Everyone saw the kick and the tears. Regardless of the USADA mess after, it’ll always be looked at as a straight KO for Jon the Bastard.

2018: The year kicked off with UFC 220 in Boston. And both Stipe and DC were on the card. Cormier put away Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main. And then Stipe would close the show...

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...against Francis Ngannou! I’ll never forget the hype going into this one. Dana at the press conference laying it on extra thick.

“Francis Ngannou has the world record for the most powerful punch. His punch is the equivalent to 96 horsepower, which is equal to getting hit by a Ford Escort going as fast as it can. And it’s more powerful than a 12lb sledgehammer swung full force from overhead. HOLY SHIT!” - Dana White

Stipe’s face when he said this was class.

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The Ngannou hype was overblown but understandable. Ngannou had looked terrifying going into this one and was fresh off uppercutting Overeem’s head into space just weeks prior. But you know the score. Stipe schooled him. There were some scary moments early on. Fractions of inches difference and they could’ve been scraping Stipe up with a dustpan and brush. But he was too slick, too smart and just too good. He really outclassed Big Francis over 5 rounds. Credit to Ngannou, he lasted the whole 5 rounds. Most don’t with Miocic. But it was one way traffic with 50-44s across the board on the scorecards.

That led to the big Superfight.

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MIOCIC VS CORMIER 1

UFC 226

July 7th 2018

Las Vegas, Nevada

The phrase ‘Superfight’ was really getting chucked around willy nilly around this time but this fight actually warranted it. It was the first time in UFC history that the Heavyweight champ was facing the Light Heavyweight champ. I think most felt like Cormier was in over his head going in. He was getting up in age, he’d suffered that heavy knockout headkick from Jones just a year earlier and he was always a small Heavyweight anyway. Going up against Stipe who’d been blasting through top Heavyweights for fun seemed like a recipe for disaster. I know I didn’t fancy Cormier’s chances.

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But by 4:33 of the first round, it was all over. DC had done it. It wasn’t without controversy, the eyepokes were a big part of the story and a rematch seemed inevitable. But Cormier left Vegas that night with 2 belts. He capped off a successful year by stepping in and getting an easy win over Derrick Lewis at MSG in November and that was a wrap for 2018.

2019: Both men only fought once. And it was against each other. The rematch was on.

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CORMIER VS MIOCIC 2 

UFC 241

August 17th 2019 

Anaheim, California 

This was a completely different fight to the first one. This time it wasn’t over quick. What we got was a real battle of attrition. I’ll have to rewatch it over the next few weeks but, as I recall, Cormier did well early on with his wrestling but I felt like he started slowing down as the fight wore on and holding Stipe down became more difficult.

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Then Stipe started really going to town on the body and it sapped whatever DC had left. He started wilting and Stipe swarmed all over him.

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TKO in the 4th for Miocic.

I remember it being an incredible fight, one of the best in Heavyweight history, but I haven’t seen it since. I’ll have to give it another look before this rubber match, I think.

2020: And here we are. Part 3. Got to say, I’m favouring Stipe here. It’s weird because when you look back at their 2 fights, Cormier was most likely winning for the bulk of the time they were in the cage together. But unless he can stop Miocic early again, I struggle to see him implementing a game plan to beat him over 25 minutes. People say ‘well he’ll wrestle him this time’ as if he deliberately chose not to last time. But he tried to wrestle. He was wrestling the fuck out of Stipe early and he couldn’t sustain it. Stipe’s a big old lump and he knows how to wrestle. He wasn’t the pure amateur wrestler DC was but he’s good enough to where it’s going to be a struggle for DC to hold him down for long spells. I just see Stipe either catching him early or doing similar to last time and putting him away when he’s fading. DC’s great but he’s also 41, not in the best of shape and is half out the door already and thinking about that retirement life. I just think he’s up against it here and it’s going to be too steep a hill to climb. 

 

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Junior Dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik is ending with a bang one way or the other. I’m torn on this one because I’m a huge fan of JDS and could never root against him. But at the same time, I don’t want to see Jair lose two in a row either. You all know the score with JDS by now. Former Heavyweight champ, full time lovely bastard. Battered a who’s who on the way up the ladder from Werdum to Gonzaga to Cro Cop to Nelson to Carwin. Put Cain on his arse in a minute to win the strap in 2011. Bashed Frank Mir about. Stopped Mark Hunt. Had that 5 round war with Stipe. He’s given us so many great moments and highlights over the past decade or so. But the beatings have also piled up. The Cain ones were some of the most brutal I’ve ever seen this side of Drago vs Creed. And up to present day, we’ve just seen him get stopped by Ngannou and Blaydes in his last couple of outings. Not good. He’s still always dangerous but he’s also slower to react, slower to evade and more vulnerable these days. Rozenstruik is coming off his first MMA defeat. He got ran over by the Ngannou Express in 20 seconds in May. Before that he was 10-0 with 9 knockouts, 7 inside a round. And he has a Kickboxing record of 76-8-1 with 64 knockouts! Nowhere near the bum Big Francis made him look. This is most likely ending with someone horizontal. Probably JDS sadly.

 

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Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba 2 is 252’s ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and if you’ve ever seen these two fight before, you know why. Buckle up for this bastard. Their first fight in February only lasted 38 seconds but it was 38 seconds of utter mayhem. You know some mad shit is about to go down when security have to step in during the Bruce Buffer intros, for fuck’s sake.

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Then the fight started, they were both throwing with serious heat and bad intentions, Ankalaev buzzed him with a couple of headkicks and referee Kevin McDonald jumped in and waved it off with Cutelaba still on his feet. I’m all for fighter safety being the main priority and Cutelaba was wobbly, but I felt like the ref didn’t really give him much of a chance, the fight had just started and Cutelaba was firing back when he stepped in. You’d always rather a ref steps in too soon than too late, of course, but I’m glad they’re running it back. Should be some ruck this. Ankalaev is 14-1 and even the loss was a fight he was winning until literally getting subbed in the last second of the fight by Paul Craig. Had he held on one second longer, he’d still be undefeated now. And Cutelaba is a wild fucker. He’s 15-5-1 and he’s one of those nutcases who’s aggression works against them sometimes. But Christ, he’s fun to watch. Just a ball of intensity and brute power. Got a feeling this is going to be full on chaos.

 

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Frankie Edgar vs Pedro Munhoz. Let’s try this again. This will be the third card this has been targeted for. Was supposed to be on 251 when it was first announced. Then it got moved to the Kattar vs Ige show. Then Munhoz tested positive for COVID and it got shifted to this card. Hopefully that’ll be it now and it will finally happen. Very intrigued by this one as it’s Frankie’s long talked about Bantamweight debut. He was actually supposed to face Cory Sandhagen in January as his debut at 135 but things got all fucked up and he wound up jumping in on short notice against Korean Zombie at Featherweight. The gamble didn’t pay off and Zombie annihilated him in a round. Been a fan of Frankie ever since I saw his classic with Tyson Griffin back in 2007. One of the most universally respected fighters in the game and a surefire future Hall Of Famer. Not sure what to think about this drop to 135 though. Granted, he’s shut out of the title picture at 145 now. And at 155, I think he’s just too small for the current crop of beasts there today. I get it. But he’s also 38 years old and has been in some wars over the years. It’s late in the day to be dropping weight classes. And Munhoz is no soft debut opponent. He’s 5 years Edgar’s junior and has a record of 18-4-1 with finishes over Cody Garbrandt, Bryan Caraway and Rob Font. He also beat Brett Johns in an awesome forgotten war a couple of years ago. Assuming that Frankie’s got the weight cut right, this has all the ingredients of a fantastic fight.

 

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Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera is just about the perfect fight to open up the PPV. Can’t go wrong with this. Love the matchup. O’Malley is really starting to catch on now. 25 years old, unbeaten at 12-0 with 9 finishes, always rocks up with a different look, has a real likability. He seems to have everything covered. Like anyone else, he’s got his detractors but I like him so far. Weird sod but seems a good guy behind the rainbow fro and silly clothes. And it’s anything but a laughing matter when the cage door closes.

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There he is wiping out Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 in June. Mega impressive. Not only for the aesthetics of how clean a KO it was, but also that he put away a durable and experienced guy like Wineland in that manner in under 2 minutes. Jose Alberto Quinonez got similar treatment in March. O’Malley’s been gradually stepping up in opposition, slowly but surely, and so far he’s passing the tests with flying colours. So it’s only logical that he’s getting another step up here. Marlon Vera is no joke. He dropped a decision to Song Yadong in his last fight but before that he’d stopped his last 5 opponents in a row. On top of that he has a submission win over Brian Kelleher, a TKO over Brad Pickett and he’s survived 3 rounds of John Lineker and lived to tell the tale. Tough little bastard. Should be fireworks however long it lasts. I fancy Suga Sean to catch him at some point but I think Vera can at least test him and maybe put him in some bother.

 

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John Dodson vs Merab Dvalishvili is OK. I just really never get up for a Dodson fight unless I know there’s a very high chance he gets twatted. Annoying little shit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get twatted often because he’s an awkward, slippery little fuck. He’s 35 now and 21-11. Not the force he once was. At one point he was a top tier contender and probably would’ve had a turn with the Flyweight strap if he didn’t come along during Mighty Mouse’s reign. He’s had his moments though. TUF winner, knocked out Dillashaw, gave DJ a good fight in their first meeting. He’s fallen off big time in recent years but he showed in his last fight that he’s still dangerous when he stopped rising contender Nathaniel Wood. Dvalishvili is Georgian, 29 years old and trains with the Serra-Longo crew in Long Island, New York. Solid little fighter with a 11-4 record and he comes into this one off 4 straight wins. Couple of decent ones over Casey Kenney and Brad Katona but he’s definitely nowhere near as tested as Dodson has been. Feels like old vs new but as the Wood fight showed us, Dodson can still catch these up and comers on a good night.

 

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Livia Renata Souza vs Ashley Yoder is just filling a slot on the card. Nothing special. I recall Souza being half decent actually. 13-2 record, former Invicta Strawweight champ and was on a solid little 4 fight streak before losing to Brianna Van Buren in her last fight. She’s been inactive for a whole year now for whatever reason. Nothing is jumping out in the memory about Yoder. She’s 7-5 and coming off a split decision loss to Randa Markos. Nothing remarkable about her from my hazy memory of her.

 

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Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba isn’t doing a great deal for me either. Herrig’s been around a while now. Back in the days when women’s MMA was just the occasional novelty fight chucked in the middle of an EliteXC card. She’s 35 years old now and between MMA and Kickboxing, she’s had 50 fights. Never been a fan myself. Especially after her stint on TUF years ago. Seemed a right twat. She does have some skills though, obviously in the striking but she’s also shown a decent submission game at times. She’s coming into this one off points losses to Michelle Waterson and Karolina Kowalkiewicz though. A third loss on the bounce could possibly see her getting her walking papers. And Jandiroba seems quite a formidable test. She’s a former Invicta Strawweight champion, BJJ black-belt, 15-1 record with 12 submissions. And on top of that grappling game she trains under Luiz Dórea, the man credited as being behind the boxing of JDS for the first few years of his run.

 

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Rogerio Bontorin vs Manel Kape then. This is notable mostly because it’s the UFC debut of Kape. He’s 26 years old, from Angola, 15-4 record with 14 of his wins coming inside the distance. He was also the RIZIN Bantamweight champ.

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He lost to Kyoji Horiguchi back in 2017 but in his last fight on New Year’s Eve, he knocked out Kai Asakura, who had previously KO’d Horiguchi in a minute. He also holds stoppage victories over Takeya Mizugaki, Ian McCall and Erson Yamamoto (KID’s nephew). There’s some real buzz around Kape and, like Jiri Prochazka, a great acquisition from RIZIN. Bontorin is 16-2-1 with UFC wins over Raulian Paiva and Magomed Bibulatov. No world beater but he’s decent enough. I’d expect Kape to win but you never know. He wouldn’t be the first to flop in his Octagon debut.

 

That’s it for now. I’ll edit this as more fights get added and whenever COVID forces a zillion changes. For now though, that might just be my favourite main card of 2020 so far. There’s not a fight on that main card that I’m not really interested in. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Arguably the main card of the year for me. In terms of fights i just cant see not being exciting this is the one. 

Plus it'll be capped off by seeing DC once again strapping that belt around his waist, how sweet it will be.

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Looking like Edgar vs Munhoz is getting pushed back. Again.

At this point it’s starting to feel like someone or something is trying to tell Frankie to sack off this move to 135. He was meant to make his Bantamweight debut in January. 8 months and 4 cancelled or postponed fights later and it still hasn’t happened. 

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Great write up Wand.

DC is one of my all time favourites so I am crossing every finger and toe that he retires as the heavyweight champion of the world. I love the guy so much.

The rest of the main card looks awesome too, I'm fully on board the Sugashow, I hope he puts Chito away in similar fashion to what we are used to, this is definitely a step up in competition (no disrespect to Wineland) but it's also interesting to note that O'Malley is actually ranked higher than Vera. O'Malley is 14th and Vera was 15th up until this week and now he is unranked.

I wonder what fight from the prelims will take the place of the Edgar/Munoz fight if it is indeed postponed? Hopefully the Dodson fight as I love the guy and think he's a great chap.

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That’s in jeopardy as well now. Bontorin has injured his ankle apparently. Kape needs a new opponent.

The Edgar vs Munhoz fight is officially off this card as well. Now it’s going to headline the Fight Night on 22nd August. 

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Bastard. Was looking forward to his debut. It’s still a fantastic card but it’s taken a little hit for me losing Edgar vs Munhoz and now Kape.

Like I said in another thread, maybe Khamzat lands on this card now. He’s after a fight in August and there’s a few slots to fill up on this card. Wouldn’t mind seeing Jiri Prochazaka back in there if they can find him an opponent either. 

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Fireman Stipe is the man. People don’t take into account enough when having the GOAT discussion. Not only has this guy beat Cormier, Ngannou, JDS, Overeem, Werdum, Arlovski, Hunt, Gonzaga and Nelson. He’s been holding down a job as a firefighter the whole time while dominating in MMA like no other Heavyweight in UFC history. It’s crazy. Knocking out the scariest monsters while locked in a cage isn’t even the most terrifying thing he does. It’s just a Saturday night to him.

Super Stipe is the hero we need but don’t deserve in MMA. I was fairly slow to get on board with him. Always rated him in the cage but was lukewarm on him in general. Bit by bit though, in the cage and out of it, he’s shown himself to be a top man. I’ll be rooting for DC here. Love the bloke and it’d be cool to see him go out as champ and winning the trilogy. But it’s hard to go against Stipe for me these days. 

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I'm rooting for Stipe. If he beats DC, it's just one more win to cement him as the greatest HW. He's got a little bit longer left in his career too, so it'd be good to see him keep that run going. 

Of course, now that I've said that, watch it all go to shit. DC by wheel kick. 

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There is that. If DC wins it leaves an already shallow and ageing Heavyweight division in a right mess. If Stipe wins, I’m guessing we get a Ngannou rematch. Which, I’d favour Stipe in again but it’s still a rematch I want to see and it’d be edge of the seat stuff because Ngannou’s ‘puncher’s chance’ is higher than most.

Whatever happens though, it looks like we’re heading for a down spell at Heavyweight unless some killers pop up really soon. DC’s done after this and I can’t imagine guys like Overeem, JDS, Arlovski and even Oleynik will be around too much longer. Werdum might be off to Bellator and even if he stays he’s 43 or whatever. The division has never been the most packed but it could lose a lot of the depth it does have over the next few years when this lot start retiring. I mean, Stipe’s about to turn 38 himself in August. I don’t think people realise that. In a couple of years we could be looking at a situation where Ngannou’s the champ and defending against the likes of Blaydes, Volkov, Ivanov and that lot. It’s not all doom and gloom. There’s Ciryl Gane and Rodrigo Nascimento. They’re the two I’ve got tagged as the best prospects in the division. But even then, Gane’s a teammate of Ngannou so that fight is probably never happening. I still think Rozenstruik will have his moments. Sergey Spivak and Sergei Pavlovich look decent. We’ve still got Derrick Lewis providing some entertainment. Walt Harris is knocking about. It’s not 2004/05 levels of bad. But it’ll be the weakest it’s been in a while in terms of big fights that people will want to see. Even now, after this Stipe vs DC rubber match, the main thing I’m looking forward to at Heavyweight is Greg Hardy’s inevitable beating. There’s not much else to get excited about. 

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You've missed out Augusto Sakai. It's odd, he's doing well, but he doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar for some reason.

Here's hoping that Tom Aspinall can also build on his recent win, 45 seconds is pretty impressive, even if it was just Jake Collier.

The only other prospect I can see is if they throw money at Vitaly Minakov, but they'd either have to offer him a lot to give up the sambo and judo championships, or just allow him to do them. 

The future of the UFC heavyweight division suggests a potential raid on Bellator's is on the cards. Looking at the division rankings, I could see them finally giving Kharitonov a run to build up the younger prospects (and to give Dana yet another reason to talk shit about PRIDE), and there's also a guy called Tyrell Fortune who's 30 and 8-1 - sounds like a potential target to me. Hell, given his recent run, they could very well try and get Cheick Kongo - fucker's 45 and on a 7-win streak! The heavyweight, less interesting Romero. 

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