Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic
The heavyweight championship is on the line Saturday night as Stipe Miocic looks to regain the title from the man that beat him back in July 2018 in UFC 226, Daniel Cormier. The first-round knockout by Cormier came as a shock, the underdog brutally ending Miocic’s reign as champion that finished the longest run in UFC heavyweight history. The Ohio native initially had become the champ back in 2016, successfully defending his title 3 times before Cormier stepped up in weight class to become the 4th man to simultaneously hold 2 belts and the first to successfully defend both.
The odds have understandably swung in Cormier’s favour for the rematch with his current Cloudbet price at 1.7, but it’s Miocic who I predict to learn from the first fight and re-take the coveted crown. Watching the first fight back (it didn’t take long) saw Miocic dominate the majority of the encounter but he looked impatient and tentative as he tried to assert his authority, subsequently getting caught by a sharp punch in close proximity. The part-time fireman is the taller man at 6ft 4 and has a reach of 80 inches, often dominating opponents through relentless striking that can come through his long legs, rare in a heavyweight encounter.
There’s early talk of a potential retirement if Cormier can’t retain his title and unfortunately for UFC this is the outcome I expect.
In comparison, 40 year old Cormier is just 5ft 11 with a 8 inch reach disadvantage, which was immediately apparent in the first fight. Yet the kickboxing expert has only lost one fight to Jon Jones in his illustrious career and since then has enjoyed a 7 fight win streak. His power is notoriously explosive but it’s his stamina and heart to take a fight to the trenches if needed that has made him hugely successful and draws in spectators globally.
There’s early talk of a potential retirement if Cormier can’t retain his title and unfortunately for UFC this is the outcome I expect. Miocic will take his time, win the early rounds and try to secure the title once again the tactful way, leaving Cormier to rely on his wrestling experience and expertise to force a TKO. It could be the most interesting heavyweight fight of the year and back a motivated Miocic at 2.15 to come out on top.
UFC 241 odds - Miocic vs Cormier
Nate Diaz vs. Anthony Pettis
The long-awaited return of Nate Diaz is the co-headline for UFC 241 as he fights at welterweight against Anthony Pettis with both fighters looking to re-establish their careers and work towards a title shot against newly crowned champion Kamaru Usman.
It’s been just short of three long years since Diaz lost by decision in the infamous rematch against Conor McGregor, closing the whirlwind chapter that’s guaranteed if the Irishman is involved. The financial gain from those two fights has allowed the Stockton born southpaw to take his time in returning to the Octogon, slightly under the radar as co-headline with Cormier v Miocic the standout match of the two. His expected return was in 2018, but Dustin Poirier pulled out due to injury and the fight was cancelled.
His 19-11 record isn’t headline worthy, but his fantastic boxing ability and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu style is. His fight back in 2015 against Michael Johnson was one of the most impressive punch performances seen in UFC history and the match up against Pettis strikes up a lot of comparisons. The real question surrounding Diaz is what physical shape he’ll be in and how hungry will he be to try and climb up the rankings.
Pettis also shares a similarly uninspiring record at 22-8, but a recent KO win against Stephen Thompson will give ‘Showtime’ a boost ahead of this crucial fight for him. Ranked 9th in the Welterweight division, the 32 year-old has fought twice a year since 2016 with a mixture of results. He hasn’t fought for a championship belt since lost the Lightweight Championship back in 2015 against Rafael dos Anjos, before losing the next two and falling off the radar.
Pettis has an array of weapons at his disposal including taekwondo and muay thai, but like Diaz, his striking is dynamic, accurate and a constant menace for opponents. His recent form and busy activity in UFC over the past four years has resulted in a price of 1.74 compared to 2.10 for Diaz. Another exciting and tough fight to call. Pettis may not have the edge skill wise, but mentally and physically I would back him to outlast Diaz in a fight that I expect to go the distance.
Latest UFC 241 odds - Diaz vs Pettis
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa
Recovering from a recent loss to Robert Whittaker back in June, 42 year- old Yoel Romero will look to halt the sharp rise of Paulo Costa in an eagerly anticipated fight that is a close contest on paper.
Both fighters are known for their gung-ho approach with Costa winning all twelve of his fights so far in the first two rounds, most recently in Vegas against Uriah Hall. Typically, the Brazilian nicknamed ‘Borrachinha’ leaves it all on the table and hasn’t had a significant test that has made him think twice about ploughing through opponents with relevant ease.
When the fight was announced it was priced up an even contest with Romero a slight favourite, but since then Romero’s odds have shortened with the Cuban’s experience likely to be a determining factor. Although he’s only had 4 more MMA fights than Costa, his longstanding Olympic Wrestling career has established his fearless reputation against opponents of a similar size.
Romero’s lost to Whittaker (his second lost to ‘The Reaper’ within a year) was a tough 5-round split decision call that could have easily resulted in a win. This fight however will only be 3 rounds so stamina shouldn’t be a concern for punters trying to diagnose any tactical advantages. Expect two jacked athletes swinging and looking for the early TKO.
These middle-weights are at the top end of the weight class and Romero should be able to equally trade heavy blows so expect a short and explosive fight. I agree with the market trend and would back Romero to use his experience to come through victorious, albeit knowingly in a brutal battle.
Latest UFC 241 odds - Romero vs Costa