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Stipe Miocic closes trilogy with unanimous decision win over Daniel Cormier in UFC 252 main event

UFC 252: Miocic v Cormier 3 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Three years and three fights later, Stipe Miocic has defined himself as the greatest heavyweight in the history of the UFC.

After splitting a pair of fights with Daniel Cormier in 2018 and 2019, the Ohio native closed out the trilogy with a unanimous decision victory following a back-and-forth battle over all five rounds in the UFC 252 main event. The final scores read 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 with Miocic earning the victory.

While there was some ill feelings between the heavyweights in the final weeks leading up to the fight, Miocic had nothing but compliments for Cormier after facing him three consecutive times.

“Honestly, he’s a hell of a fighter,” Miocic said about Cormier. “I wish him nothing but the best. He’s an amazing champion. He’s a tough dude.”

Much like he ended the rematch, Miocic opened the trilogy with a hard left hand to the body but Cormier countered by closing the distance and looking for the takedown. Miocic was quick to scramble free but he still had to be cautious, which allowed Cormier to come back over the top with a nice overhand punch.

An eye poke paused the fight momentarily but on the restart, Cormier started to find a consistent home for that same right hand that earned him a knockout over Miocic in their first meeting. Every time Cormier got inside, he would swing his right hand like a hammer and Miocic was struggling to avoid it.

In the second round, Miocic started to establish his jab but Cormier’s quickness and elusiveness on the feet prevented him from connecting with his combinations. Just when it appeared that Cormier was beginning to settle into a rhythm, Miocic pressed forward with a blitzing series of punches that put the former two-division champion in trouble.

As Miocic flurried, Cormier fell to the mat and the Ohio native started looking for the finish. Cormier managed to hold on until the horn sounded but he was definitely compromised after eating several hard shots in succession.

It appeared Cormier was still stunned as he came out for the third round with Miocic on the attack while still being cautious of the counter strike. Miocic continued to pepper the head and body while picking and choosing his moments to unleash his power punches.

While Miocic was in control, a late exchange ended with another eye poke except this time it was Cormier who was the recipient of the accidental foul. As he came out of his corner, Cormier remarked how his vision was severely impaired.

“I couldn’t see the rest of the fight,” Cormier said after the fight. “I can’t see anything out of my left eye. It doesn’t matter. I just can’t see out of my left eye.”

Despite Cormier suffering from the eye poke, he was still resilient as he refused to concede while constantly threatening Miocic with that same right hand that continued to pay dividends as the fight continued.

To slow Cormier down, Miocic countered by working from the clinch against the cage while pushing with an exhaustive pace. Whenever the fighters would break apart, Miocic was looking for straight punches down the middle while Cormier was still searching for a knockout with that overhand right.

Deep into the fifth and final round, Miocic was just the more active fighter while tagging Cormier with combinations and then forcing him against the cage again and again. When it was over, both fighters were obviously tired but it was Miocic who had been the more effective offensive force through 25 minutes and it showed on the scorecards.

While it was obviously not the outcome he wanted, Cormier stayed true to his word by confirming his plans to retire from the sport after this third and final fight with Miocic.

“It just sucks,” Cormier said. “Being on the losing end of two big fights and trilogies, it’s a very sad position to be in. I will deal with it as I’ve dealt with things in the past. I’m not interested for fighting for anything but titles and I don’t imagine there’s going to be a title in the future.

“That’ll be it for me. I’ve had a long run. It’s been great. I just fought my last fight for a heavyweight championship. It was a pretty good fight.”

As for Miocic, he has now defended his UFC heavyweight title yet again while vanquishing a foe who took that belt away from him just two years earlier. While the list of contenders are already starting to line up to face him next — including a potential challenge from light heavyweight champion Jon Jones — Miocic is only focused on going home to see his family before even thinking about the future.

“Just enjoy life for now,” Miocic said. “Heal up and we’ll figure it out.”

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