The timing of this recently confirmed fight is perfect, both champions coming off impressive wins on the same card at UFC 220 with their stock on the rise. Facing young, hungry challengers in their athletic primes the two men managed to neutralise the danger retaining their belts and solidifying their status as UFC champions.
From a stylistic point of view, this an intriguing fight, Stipe Miocic who usually weighs in around 230lbs is a smaller heavyweight which makes Cormier’s move up less risky because he’ll be weighing in similar to Miocic which cancels out any potential weight disadvantages. Cormier is, of course, a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion so no stranger to fighting bigger guys.
Daniel Cormier & Cain Velasquez both train out of the American Kickboxing Academy which provided Cormier with a dilemma once he moved over to the UFC from Strikeforce as the heavyweight champion, the eventual outcome was a drop down to 205lbs where Cormier has remained since 2014. The decision was made due to the fact that Velasquez and Cormier were reluctant to fight one another so to avoid a potential situation where they had no choice but to fight each other Cormier removed himself from the equation.
Since Cormier made that decision he’s claimed & defended (multiple times) the light heavyweight belt. Cain Velasquez however, has been inactive and out of the heavyweight title picture completely. The question of whether or not Cormier could beat the current heavyweight champion has been raised on many occasions, Cormier will try to provide an answer to the question whilst also attempting to make history by becoming only the fifth man to hold a UFC Championship in two separate divisions.
On the other side of the coin, Stipe Miocic who felt underappreciated and disrespected in the lead up to his fight with Francis Ngannou gets a big opportunity to put an accomplished champion and one of the all-time greats in Daniel Cormier on his record. After becoming the most successful heavyweight champion in UFC history by defending his belt for an unprecedented third time the stage is set for Miocic to cement his name unquestionably as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Here comes the but, the reason why this fight is happening isn’t down to Stipe Miocic & Daniel Cormier possibly breaking PPV records it’s because there’s a serious lack of fresh talent from 205lbs all the way up to 265lbs covering the span of two entire weight divisions.
The light heavyweight class was once the most talent packed in all of MMA, it’s now become stale with the same faces who have either all beaten each other or been on the losing side of title fights. The heavyweight division has always been thin and you can attribute that to the scarcity of large men as a percentage of the total male population.
Whichever division the loser ends up at will be in a further weakened state. If Cormier loses he’s still the 205lb champion but coming off a loss with the only fight making any sense being Cormier vs Gustafsson. In that scenario, you’ve got a champion who’s 1-1 with 1 no contest in his last three fights against an Alexander Gustafsson who’s done nothing significant since losing to Cormier over two years ago, tough sell.
If Stipe Miocic loses & Cormier becomes heavyweight champion, the downside is Cormier has declared March 20th of 2019 will be the date of his retirement. At best in that timeframe, Cormier defends his title once at most possibly never if he decides to drop back to 205lbs immediately. Should Cormier return to light heavyweight, the heavyweight division now has a vacant belt.
For the short term, this contest provides us with some fresh intrigue maybe even serves as a distraction, but in the long-term, with the lighter divisions thriving now more than ever the future of the two heaviest UFC weight divisions looks critical.