LAS VEGAS — Stipe Miocic may be a record-breaking UFC heavyweight champion, but Daniel Cormier is confident the Clevelander hasn’t faced anyone like him.
“He’s fought some tough guys,” Cormier said Wednesday at UFC 226 open workouts. “But, Fabricio Werdum, I don’t know what he was doing. He decided to run — he ran right into Stipe’s fists. Stipe might’ve still won that fight. Alistair Overeem, I don’t know what he was doing. He hurt him and then he thought he tapped. The third match with (Junior) dos Santos — I think Cain Velasquez may have turned Junior into a zombie. He’s a walking zombie nowadays. I love the guy, but he is. And Francis Ngannou can’t wrestle.
“So, this’ll be the first time he’s fighting somebody that can do everything.”
Cormier, the reigning UFC light heavyweight titleholder, is set to return to the heavyweight division for the first time since 2014 when he challenges Miocic in the champion vs. champion main event of UFC 226. “DC” began his career a perfect 12-0 competing at heavyweight, but moved down to the 205-pound division in order to avoid fighting his longtime friend and teammate Cain Velasquez. But after racking up a 7-1 record at light heavyweight, highlighted by a title reign that is stretching into its fourth year, he jumped at the opportunity to return to heavyweight at UFC 226 and challenge to become only the second man in UFC history to hold two belts concurrently.
Standing in his way is Miocic, a man who already is statistically the most accomplished heavyweight champion in UFC history.
Miocic’s résumé, size, and youth relative to Cormier are big reasons why oddsmakers opened Cormier as the betting underdog to Miocic, and those lines have only widened as UFC 226 has drawn closer. On Wednesday afternoon, Cormier was listed as high as a 2-to-1 underdog against Miocic on many sportsbooks — and those odds have given “DC” an extra motivation heading into Saturday night.
“Nobody’s really pushed him in [wrestling],” Cormier said. “I’m not anticipating that it’s going to be easy to take him down. I just know that the longer I can make us grapple, the better the odds are for me. Guy, I’ll tell you this, there are oddsmakers for a reason. They instilled me as the underdog and it’s great. Stipe Miocic is in a completely different situation. Last time [at UFC 220], he got disrespected. I feel I’m getting disrespected. Stipe Miocic is fighting a guy that, he’s never seen anything like this.
“There’s odds for a reason, but know that those odds and all that money that they’ve bet on him, it’s tied to one outcome. The only way he can win is to knock me out. There’s no other way he beats me. If he didn’t finish Ngannou on the ground, he is not finishing me on the ground. And if we fight for 25 minutes, there is no way he gets his hand raised. So all the money that people are betting, know that it’s tied to one outcome, because that’s the only way he wins the fight.”
Cormier said he was around 240 pounds on Wednesday afternoon, similar to the same size he was when he defeated Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett in back-to-back fights in 2011-12 to win the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. “DC” said he was initially shooting to be closer to 230 pounds, but as camp went on, both he and his team agreed that he was performing better at the heavier weight.
“I train like I’m fighting at 205,” Cormier said. “Heavyweights don’t train like that. I know now that I wasn’t training as hard as I should have when I was a heavyweight, because I know I’ve put in more work leading up to this one.”