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Junior dos Santos: Stipe Miocic ‘is the only one risking something’ at UFC 226

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

One of the few men to ever beat Stipe Miocic in MMA, Junior dos Santos thinks the heavyweight champion will successfully defend his title at Saturday’s superfight against 205-pound kingpin Daniel Cormier.

Unbeaten as a heavyweight, Cormier decided to move back up after nine light heavyweight bouts to try to become champion in two weight classes simultaneously. Miocic, on the other hand, has already made history by defending his UFC crown a record three consecutive times.

“Cigano”, a former heavyweight champion who went 1-1 against Miocic and 1-2 against Cormier’s main training partner Cain Velasquez inside the Octagon, picks Miocic to win despite picturing some complicated scenarios in Las Vegas.

“I think this fight could be a complicated fight for Miocic,” dos Santos told MMA Fighting. “Miocic has great knockout power, heavy hands and hits hard, can’t deny that, and has precision in his punches. His boxing is really good. I’m going with him. I believe he will come out victorious. If he lands something on Cormier, that’s it for Cormier. He will feel it. (Miocic) is an intelligent guy and has a bit of wrestling, too. Not at Cormier’s level, but his wrestling is good enough to defend a takedown or two and keep landing strikes.”

“One thing that is a bit concerning about Miocic is that he tends to get tired by the third or fourth rounds,” he added, “something that doesn’t happen with Cormier when he’s doing what he does best, which is wrestling. That can be a determining factor in this fight. It’s kind of obvious that Cormier will try to close the distance and work on the ground, smashing Miocic there to take advantage during the fight. But I see an interesting fight for the fans.”

Cormier went 13-0 as a heavyweight in his first years as a mixed martial artist, defeating names like Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Antonio Silva and Jeff Monson, and only went down in weight to avoid a potential clash with his teammate Velasquez.

Training with heavyweights at American Kickboxing Academy and having done so well against larger competition definitely helps, and “Cigano” thinks Cormier’s wrestling and cardio could make the difference.

“Cormier looks like a guy that takes good care of his career, and his fighting style, much like Velasquez’s, is a complicated one,” dos Santos said. “They dominate you, they are good at that, and they can offer you a tough fight: close the distance, keep you down, land punches, damaging you. The type of fight that is boring, but really effective. Cormier is a monster at that game, he looks like he never gets tired because he has done that his whole life. In my opinion, he will try to do that and, if he’s successful, he might get a good result.

“Miocic is the only one risking something in this fight. Cormier has nothing at stake. Cormier has no big responsibilities. He’s fighting a division above, he can’t lose his belt, he can’t lose anything, so Miocic is the only one with something to lose in this fight.”

UFC 226 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and features Miocic-Cormier in the main event. Recently cleared of a failed doping test by proving to be a victim of tainted supplements, dos Santos is scheduled to return a week after in Boise, Idaho, headlining a Fight Night event against Blagoy Ivanov.

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