UFC 226 will be headlined by a superfight of dominate champions. Heavyweight Champion Stipe Moicic(18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) will take on Light Heavyweight Champion and former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier(20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC).
Some superfights take place after years of build and fan interest. This one seemed to be birthed and pushed over a matter of days. The two men have no connection and thus this matchup feels a bit forced and desperate.While this fight will create great headlines, it really is the only option for these two champions. The UFC have found themselves in an unfamiliar situation, they have no other options.
After dispatching of Francis Ngannou, Moicic has put togther the most dominate heavyweight championship run in UFC history. Moicic has defeated every fighter that has any claim to the championship that still remains in the UFC. Stipe sits in a tough position as he really doesn’t have as much to gain in this situation. He will be a huge favorite against a much smaller Cormier that hasn’t fought at heavyweight since 2014. If he loses it will not only hurt his legacy but it will portray negatively in an already thin heavyweight division.
Daniel Cormier enters UFC 226 with a chance to cement himself as only the second fighter ever to hold the title in two divisions at once. Cormier sits in a similar situation as Miocic, he currently sits at the top of a division that has no clear contender that he has not already dispatched. Dana White placing Cormier in this fight allows him to hope that a true light heavyweight contender will emerge. For Cormier this is a win-win situation, no one expects him to win this fight, if he does he will have to be considered the best light heavyweight in UFC history(Not named Jon Jones).
Cormier has notable wins at heavyweight, (Frank Mir , Antonio Silva, Roy Nelson and Josh Barnett), but those were a younger version of Cormier. Cormier will enter the octagon with the legitimate best heavyweight in the world. The UFC has seen a drop in pay-per view ratings as well as a loss of notable marketable names. Conor McGregor is more focused on his personal brand than defending his title, Rhonda Rousey is now a professional wrestler, Anderson Silva has gotten old, Jon Jones can’t stay clean. The UFC was forced into this fight due to lack of star power to sell. As intriguing as a superfight can be, they can also leave a division in shambles. The fighter moving up is less likely to return to their division. In this case, it seems fairly certain Cormier would be done at 205. I mentioned the positive possibilities for the light heavyweight division without Cormier, but there are a few bad scenarios.
This fight will be huge for the UFC as they continue to lose the momentum they had in the early 2000’s. But even if this is a success for the UFC and they get millions of pay-per view buys, what is next for MMA’s elite organization? Where do they go from here?