With UFC 241 just round the corner - Sportskeeda analyst Kieran Herring takes a look back at UFC 226 - where Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic crossed paths for the very first time.
In early 2018, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier both looked close to unbeatable. With Jon Jones out of action through suspension, Daniel Cormier was completely dominating every single light-heavyweight on the roster and quickly running out of viable opponents to defend his belt against.
Meanwhile, Stipe Miocic had become the first man to successfully defend the UFC heavyweight belt three times - capping his streak with a sensational 5-round domination of Francis Ngannou at UFC 220.
And then, on January 26th, 2018, the UFC's two most dangerous 'big guys' were set on a collision course, when Dana White announced that Miocic would defend his heavyweight belt against Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 in July.
Las Vegas held Miocic as a heavy favorite throughout the build-up due to him being the more natural heavyweight. Perhaps the bookmakers overlooked the fact that Daniel Cormier came into MMA as a heavyweight, and a pretty exceptional heavyweight at that, having previously held the Strikeforce heavyweight championship - having never even lost a round at 265lbs.
It seemed that just about everybody was underestimating DC heading into UFC 226...
Somewhat surprisingly, Cormier actually entered the fight as the heavier of the two fighters. In spite of the weight differential, the size advantage in favor of Miocic was striking - with DC coming up 6 inches shorter than his opponent and offering a reach 7.5 inches shorter than Stipe's.
The fight seemed fairly even in the opening exchanges, with both fighters landing and absorbing some good shots.
Then, in the final minute of the very first round, the Cormier and Miocic engaged in a standing clinch. As they disengaged Cormier unleashed an almighty right hook to the chin of Miocic, followed by a few pounding blows to the grounded champion.
And just like that - we had a new UFC heavyweight champion and a new legend of the sport as Daniel Cormier became the second-ever two-weight UFC champion.
Immediately after the fight, a path appeared to open up ahead of Cormier, as he invited former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar into the ring. A verbal and physical altercation ensued between the two and a super-fight appeared to be a formality.
Miocic made the perfectly valid claim that he had done more than enough during his reign to deserve an immediate rematch, however his claims were largely ignored while the MMA world waited for confirmation that Lesnar was to return for a fight with DC.
Finally, on May 1st, 2019, Lesnar officially announced his decision to walk away from MMA - for good this time. This meant Stipe Miocic could end his long hiatus from the sport to claim a rematch that he believed the UFC owed to him.
You can see Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic go at it once again this weekend at UFC 241 in what will be one of the biggest heavyweight bouts in UFC history.Published 13 Aug 2019, 16:22 IST