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Daniel Cormier: I would have finished Francis Ngannou ‘if I spent 22 minutes on top of him’

LAS VEGAS — Daniel Cormier respects Stipe Miocic a great deal as UFC heavyweight champion. That doesn’t mean he sees no holes in his game.

For one, Cormier said there were some deficiencies in Miocic’s unanimous decision win over Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in January. Cormier said he would have finished the fight if he were in Miocic’s place. Ngannou, Cormier said, “can’t wrestle.”

“It’s gonna be different,” Cormier said of Miocic at UFC 226 open workouts Wednesday. “The guy is good. The guy hits hard. But I feel like we have prepared for everything he can bring to the table. Man, this dude is a good champion — he is. And I love Francis Ngannou. I think he’s a great guy. But if I spent 22 minutes on top of him, I would have gotten four or five submissions and found a way to get some TKO stoppages.”

Cormier, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, will move up and challenge Miocic for the heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 226 on Saturday here at T-Mobile Arena. The UFC has been looking for big fights this year and this is one of the biggest the promotion can put together. When it comes to sheer merit, Miocic vs. Cormier — two of the greatest to ever do it in their respective divisions — is one of the best fights in MMA history.

Cormier, 39, is no stranger to the heavyweight division. The first 13 fights of his MMA career came at heavyweight. He noted in a fiery promo that he never lost at heavyweight as a wrestler, not as a fighter. Cormier won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2012 and owns wins over Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett.

The only reason Cormier (20-1, 1 NC) went down to 205 in the first place (and he has only lost to Jon Jones in that weight class) was because his close friend and teammate Cain Velasquez resided at heavyweight.

“It’s a true superfight, right?” Cormier said of UFC 226. “You people talk about true superfights and they say just because two champions are fighting, it’s a superfight. That’s not necessarily true. It’s the best of the best warrants the title superfight. This guy has done things that no other heavyweight has been able to do and I’ve defended that light heavyweight title three times. And then you got a guy in me that’s going back to the weight class he started in. So it’s almost like my career is coming full circle.

“When I was in the heavyweight division, Stipe and I were in the heavyweight division at the same time. I was ranked No. 2 in the world before I went down. He was still a prospect. So, I’ve lived in that division for a long time. … There is no part of me that is afraid of Stipe Miocic. And in terms of styles, the fact that he does a lot of his best work inside works to my advantage.”

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