UFC 226 tips: Best bets for Miocic v Cormier
Make the most of Saturday night's superfight in Las Vegas with these tips, which cover the main event and the rest of the card.
Stipe Miocic v Daniel Cormier
Two of the UFC’s greatest ever fighters meet on Saturday night in what is a genuine superfight.
Miocic is the most dominant champion in the history of the heavyweight division, having tied the record of three successful title defences since winning the belt at UFC 198 in May 2016.
The 35-year-old has plenty of knockout power, with 14 of his 18 professional wins coming inside the distance, and he also showed off his fight IQ and impressive stamina in a decision win over Francis Ngannou in January.
Miocic has now won six successive fights, beating some of the world’s best heavyweights in the process, but Cormier might be his toughest opponent to date.
The UFC light heavyweight champion has still only lost to Jon Jones in 22 fights, and was undefeated in 14 bouts when he fought at heavyweight earlier in his career.
Cormier is an elite wrestler and can knock people out as well, but his size disadvantage should prove crucial in this fight.
He has shown throughout his career that he can get inside the reach of a larger fighter, but Miocic’s hands are so dangerous on the inside that Cormier will risk a KO every time he moves in for a takedown.
The 39-year-old will have his moments – he’s too good to be dominated for five rounds – but Miocic’s physical gifts should see him edge the fight on points and come away with the belt.
Francis Ngannou v Derrick Lewis
Saturday’s other major heavyweight fight will be more explosive than the main event.
Both of these contenders punch with so much force that it’s hard to see any way this bout goes beyond the first or second round.
Ngannou was on a 10-fight winning streak before he was beaten on points by Miocic in January.
The 31-year-old’s cardio let him down in that fight, but that shouldn’t be a problem against Lewis, who also tends to gas out early.
Lewis has won seven of his last eight fights but was stopped by Mark Hunt last June, and the 33-year-old’s chin is vulnerable as he’s been knocked out three times.
Expect these heavyweights to go toe-to-toe, and Ngannou – who also has a four-inch reach advantage – to land the blow that ends the fight.
Michael Chiesa v Anthony Pettis
Submission specialist Chiesa lost a chance to step in and fight lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April when he was injured during Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack.
The 30-year-old should get his moment in the spotlight this weekend when he takes on Pettis, who has lost five of his last seven fights.
Chiesa lost to Kevin Lee when he last appeared in the Octagon last June, but the 30-year-old’s excellent wrestling and grappling means this is a great match-up for him.
Pettis is a talented striker, but he hasn’t been at his best since 2014 and will struggle to deal with Chiesa on the mat.
Expect ‘Maverick’ to take the 31-year-old down and control the fight on the ground on the way to a comfortable win by decision.
Gokhan Saki v Khalil Rountree
Former kickboxer Saki has only had two MMA fights in his career, with his return last September coming 13 years after he made his debut back in 2004.
The Dutchman looked excellent in his win over Henrique da Silva in Japan nine months ago, knocking out the Brazilian with a huge left hook in the first round.
Saki’s power could make him a star in this division, and a win over Rountree at this high-profile event would give his profile a major boost.
Rountree’s a solid fighter with wrestling that could trouble Saki, but the Californian has lost three of his last five fights, although one of those was overturned after his opponent failed a drug test.
The American will look to take Saki down and make this fight as ugly as possible, but he should eventually be caught with a left hand to end it early.
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