Stipe Miocic finished his trilogy of heavyweight championship fights with Daniel Cormier with another win, scoring a unanimous decision victory over the former titleholder.
Miocic (20-3) won 49-46, 49-46, 48-47 to retain his UFC heavyweight crown in the main event of UFC 252 on Saturday.
Miocic Pulls Away in Late Rounds
Cormier (22-3) started the fight well. The two men tentatively traded blows throughout the first round before Cormier stung Miocic with a sharp right hand. Two of the three judges scored the first round for Cormier.
The fight remained balanced through much of the second round before Miocic blasted Cormier with several big rights late in the round, knocking Cormier to the floor. Miocic took the mount position for the final seconds, raining down blows until the bell rang to end the round.
Worse still for Cormier, Miocic poked him in the eye, an incident that resulted in a torn cornea, but which was missed by referee Marc Goddard, who apologized to Cormier after seeing the incident again on reply after the fight.
Miocic won the third round easily, as Cormier started the round rocked and continued to feel the effects of the eye poke. Cormier rallied in the fourth, winning the frame on two cards. Finally, Miocic put the fight away with a solid fifth round in which he controlled the action by forcing Cormier into a clinch, and getting the better of the striking against the cage.
Cormier Signals Likely Retirement
After the bout, both men reflected on what their trilogy of fights means for their careers: past, present, and future. Miocic answered questions about whether the win made him the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
“It’s not what I think,” Miocic said afterward. “It’s what you guys think and the fans think. One minute you might say something and he might say something totally different. I’m happy where I’m at. I’ve done a lot.”
Meanwhile, Cormier reiterated that the loss likely means the end of his storied career.
“I’m not interested in fighting for anything by titles,” Cormier said in a postfight interview. “I don’t imagine there’s going to be a title in the future, so that will be it for me. I’ve had a long run. It’s been great.”
O’Malley Needs MRI After First Loss
Rising bantamweight star Sean O’Malley (12-1) suffered the first loss of his career in Saturday’s co-main event, as Marlon Vera (16-6-1) scored a first-round TKO win.
O’Malley injured his right leg early in the fight, causing him to struggle to move effectively in the Octagon. Vera pounced on the opportunity, landing hard elbows on a grounded O’Malley until the fight was stopped.
Medical personnel carted O’Malley out of the Octagon. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported that O’Malley will need an MRI to look for potential tears in the leg, but that initial X-rays looked promising.
Update on Sean O’Malley from a source close to him:
“X-ray on his ankle/lower leg came back OK. No fractures but MRI is needed (once swelling goes down) to look for ligament & tendon tears. They will scan knee too. Can’t have a MRI until swelling subsided.”
No timetable yet.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 17, 2020
After the fight, Vera talked about shutting down one of the most hyped fighters in the UFC.
“He has a big right hand. I was thinking, in the first round, let’s see what he’s got,” Vera said. “He has a lot of hype, good for him. But he doesn’t have the dog in him that I have.”