UFC 226 preview: Daniel Cormier challenges heavyweight king Stipe Miocic

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The UFC arrives in Las Vegas, Nevada with its biggest card of the year so far as light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier challenges heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic.

Cormier can become just the second man after Conor McGregor to hold two belts at the same time, a feat that would cement his place among the greatest fighters of all time.

Here, Sportsmail takes you through the action on the main card. 

Stipe Miocic (left) defends his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier on Saturday night

Stipe Miocic (left) defends his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier on Saturday night

Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier

Heavyweight championship

In terms of a main event, it simply does not get much bigger than this.

In what has been labelled the UFC’s first true ‘super-fight’, Cormier, widely regarded as one of the finest fighters to grace the octagon, will challenge Miocic, the most dominant heavyweight champion in the history of the company.

The challenger has spent the past four years of his career at 205 pounds, twice winning the title with three defences to his name.

He has dispatched of everyone he has fought inside the cage, barring great rival Jon Jones, who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs following their second meeting last summer. 

Cormier, pictured during Wednesday's open workout, is bidding to win a second UFC title

Cormier, pictured during Wednesday's open workout, is bidding to win a second UFC title

Cormier, pictured during Wednesday’s open workout, is bidding to win a second UFC title

Miocic is looking to make the fourth defence of his heavyweight title against the UFC veteran

Miocic is looking to make the fourth defence of his heavyweight title against the UFC veteran

Miocic is looking to make the fourth defence of his heavyweight title against the UFC veteran

UFC 226: FIGHT CARD 

Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier 

Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis

Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis

Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr 

Uriah Hall vs Paulo Costa

Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry

Raphael Assuncao vs Rob Font

Curtis Millender vs Max Griffin

Dan Hooker vs Gilbert Burns

Lando Vannata vs Drakkar Klose

Jamie Moyle vs Emily Whitmire

With Jones suspended, there were no exciting challenges left for Cormier at light-heavyweight and a chance to make history was simply too good to turn down.

Now the 39-year-old, who plans to retire next year, returns to the weight class where he began his career, a weight class where he remains undefeated.

A former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion with a record of 13-0 at heavyweight, Cormier now looks to bring an end to the greatest reign in the division’s history.

With three title defences to his name, Miocic has defended the strap more times than any man.

The Ohio native stunned the world when he knocked out Fabricio Werdum with one punch to win the belt back in 2016 and has not looked back since, finishing Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos before halting the rise of the fearsome Francis Ngannou earlier this year.

Cormier can cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time with a victory on Saturday

Cormier can cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time with a victory on Saturday

Cormier can cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time with a victory on Saturday

Like Cormier, the 35-year-old was left with no real clear-cut No 1 contender and now gets a chance to headline one of the biggest events of the year.

Miocic holds the significant size and reach advantage here but Cormier is no stranger to being the smaller man. 

The champion will likely come out looking for a 14th career knockout while the challenger, an elite wrestler with unparalleled conditioning, will aim to drag his opponent into the deep water.

Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis

Heavyweight 

With Max Holloway forced to pull out of his featherweight title defence against Brian Ortega, another heavyweight showdown will take place in the co-main event.

And its set to be a barn-burner as imposing rivals Ngannou and Derrick Lewis finally get to settle their differences. 

In a division full of old dogs, the pair have risen through the ranks, establishing themselves as top contenders over the past two years.

Francis Ngannou has established himself as one of the most devastating strikers in the UFC

Francis Ngannou has established himself as one of the most devastating strikers in the UFC

Francis Ngannou has established himself as one of the most devastating strikers in the UFC

Ngannou has garnered a reputation as the most intimidating individual in the sport, racking up a series of highlight-reel knockouts on his way to a title shot at the start of the year.

However, the Cameroonian-born Frenchman, who began MMA training just four years ago, fell short at his first attempt as he was outworked and out-wrestled by the more experienced Miocic.

While the flaws in his somewhat one-dimensional game were exposed, there are no doubts that Ngannou has the raw power to beat anyone on his day.

Derrick Lewis will look to stake his claim for a title shot by beating the No 1 ranked heavyweight

Derrick Lewis will look to stake his claim for a title shot by beating the No 1 ranked heavyweight

Derrick Lewis will look to stake his claim for a title shot by beating the No 1 ranked heavyweight

And he should be more comfortable here as he faces a man lacking the wrestling credentials of Miocic and more likely to stand and trade.

Lewis, one of the more entertaining personalities in the sport, also holds huge power in his hands and will look to drag Ngannou into the later rounds.

It’s a massive fight for the 33-year-old, who will likely earn himself a title shot with a win over the division’s No 1 ranked contender.





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