It was a title bout of champions that ended in redemption for Stipe Miocic.
The five-time UFC heavyweight champion defeated the event’s reigning champion, Daniel Cormier, in Saturday’s UFC 241 headlining event in Anaheim, Calif. to reclaim the heavyweight title. Then, he danced a jig.
“Now I’m like it’s all about [my] legacy, having a good legacy,” Miocic said after the fight. “But I want to have a legacy where I’m a good dude, I’m a tough fighter, I’ve gone through adversity. [It’s] never been an easy road. I don’t mind it.”
After a three-round slugging fest, both fighters looked bruised and fatigued heading into the fourth round. Cormier (22-2-1) led in points, with each judge giving Cormier a 2-1 advantage. But it was Miocic who prevailed, delivering a devastating body shot in the fourth round to end it. With the knockout, Miocic (19-3) become the most accomplished heavyweight in UFC history.
“What an absolute war for two heavyweights,” UFC President Dana White said during a post-fight news conference. “To go in and punch and take punches the way they did, and keep coming forward.”
Miocic and Cormier are now 1-1. The fighters last faced each other one year ago at the 2018 UFC 226 Championship. Cormier, also a light heavyweight champion, knocked out Miocic in the first round of the event.
“[Miocic’s] always been very good,” Cormier said after Saturday’s fight. “I guess tonight’s fight was the fight I expected the first time.”
Cormier broke down the Miocic’s belt-winning blow, and said he didn’t feel most of the punches Miocic threw at him in the early round. Cormier said he “felt like [he] was winning” until he wasn’t.
“It’s not about the shots that you take,” Cormier said. “It’s the one that you just don’t see coming. And that was a great combination by Stipe off of that body shot. He threw that 1-2 right behind it, and I didn’t see it. A lot of times I see punches and kind of roll with them so I don’t take the full brunt of the punch, but on that one he landed perfect.”
Other highlights from the evening included Paulo Costa (13-0) and Yoel Romero’s (13-4) middleweight fight, in which a theatrical three rounds ended with the judges giving Costa the victory by unanimous decision.
Welterweight fighter Nate Diaz (20-11) also notched an impressive win by unanimous decision over Anthony Pettis (22-9). The fight marked Diaz’s return to the Octagon after a three-year hiatus since Diaz lost a fight to Conor McGregor in August 2016.
“It felt like just where I left off,” Diaz said. “I just didn’t really pay much attention except for just getting the job done.”
Immediately following his fight, Diaz challenged Jorge Masvidal (34-13-0), who recently delivered an immediate first-round knockout to Ben Askren (19-1-0).
Miocic, in contrast, seemed more focused on his recovery than his next fights when asked about upcoming opponents.
“Honestly I just bought a new home,” Miocic said. “[I’ve] been there for two weeks. I wanna go into the hot tub [and] the pool. Let my body rest. And we can figure it out from there.”