Everything you need to know about UFC 241
Main Card (10pm ET, PPV)
Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
Nate Diaz vs Anthony Pettis
Yoel Romero vs Paulo Costa
Gabriel Benitez vs Sodiq Yusuff
Derek Brunson vs Ian Heinisch
Preliminary Card (8pm ET, ESPN)
Devonte Smith vs Khama Worthy
Raphael Assuncao vs Cory Sandhagen
Christos Giagos vs Drakkar Klose
Manny Bermudez vs Casey Kenney
Preliminary Card (6:15pm ET, Fight Pass)
Hannah Cifers vs Jodie Esquibel
Kyung Ho Kang vs Brandon Davis
Shana Dobson vs Sabina Mazo
When: Saturday, August 17th
Where: Honda Center in Anaheim, California
Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title:
Daniel Cormier (22-1) first met Stipe Miocic (18-3) 13 months ago at UFC 226. Cormier was then the UFC light heavyweight champion and had not fought at heavyweight in over five years. It took D.C. less than a round to dispatch the man many consider to be the best heavyweight champion the promotion had ever seen.
However, the fight wasn’t without controversy.
Cormier’s fingers found their way into Miocic’s eyes multiple times. Miocic returned the favor by shoving his thumb into Cormier’s eye socket halfway through the first. Now, we can’t say the eye pokes led to the outcome. The KO blow came when the two clinched and Cormier landed a huge right hook as Miocic backed out of the pocket. Cormier claimed his camp noticed Miocic had a tendency to drop his hands as he separates from the clinch and trained to exploit the flaw.
Since the first fight, Miocic has not graced the Octagon. He’s sat on the sidelines and campaigned for the rematch. Cormier took a short notice bout against Derrick Lewis last November to help add some star power to the UFC’s Madison Square Garden event. Largely seen as a cash grab looking to capitalize on the Lewis’ UFC 229 post-fight interview a month earlier, Cormier dominated the bout en route to a second-round submission victory.
This Saturday, we’ll finally get the rematch fans had been yearning for. Miocic will look to prove the first fight was a fluke, while Cormier will attempt to show that even at 40-years-old, he’s still one of the best in the game.
Co-main Event – Nate Diaz vs Anthony Pettis:
Assuming nothing goes awry in the next few days, Stockton’s own Nate Diaz (19-11) will enter the cage for the first time in three years. The enigmatic brawler has been in a self-imposed exile since losing via unanimous decision in his rematch to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 in 2016. He was expected to return against Dustin Poirier at UFC 230 in November, but an injury forced Poirier from the bout.
Anthony Pettis (22-8) has had six fights and has gone 3-3 since the last time Diaz fought. While it’s easy to dismiss Pettis’ record over the last three years, those losses came against Tony Ferguson, Max Holloway, and Dustin Poirier. Pettis has also fought at featherweight, lightweight and most recently, the Milwaukee native made his welterweight debut and starched a top-five fighter in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
This fight is interesting for a multitude of reasons. First, we don’t know how Diaz will look after the layoff. Second, Diaz has more fights at welterweight than Pettis and should be larger on fight night. Lastly, is the move up a division what Pettis needed to reinvigorate his career?
This Saturday should answer many questions.
Lock of the Night – Devonte Smith to beat Khama Worthy:
Devonte Smith (10-1) has never heard the judge’s scorecards read at one of his pro fights. That’s because Devonte Smith has finished everyone (and was finished in his lone loss) that he’s beaten. The Ohioan has a penchant for knocking his opponents unconcious quickly and violently.
Clay Collard (17-8) was in camp for LFA 75 when he got the call to replace John Makdessi on two weeks notice at UFC 241. It was announced earlier this week that Collard would be pulled from the fight due to “health issues”. Khama Worthy (14-6) will now step in and face the surging Smith on four days notice. Worthy is on a five-fight win streak with his last fight happening on July 27 of this year. This means Worthy is likely still in fighting shape, but stepping in on such short notice against a killer like Smith will likely not bode well for “The Deathstar”.
Fight of the Night – Nate Diaz vs Anthony Pettis:
Nate Diaz is tied for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history with Joe Lauzon. He’s earned fight of the night eight times in his tenure with the promotion. Anthony Pettis has earned eight of his own post-fight bonuses.
As if those stats alone aren’t enough to make you salivate, there’s the style of each man. Both move forward and look to engage. Pettis brings flashy kickboxing while Diaz is more known for his volume boxing. Both are willing to take a shot to give one back. While Diaz may be known more for his submission prowess, Pettis is a legit black belt in BJJ and is very active on the mat should the fight go there.
Simply put, this is one not to miss, folks.
Upset of the Night – Sabina Mazo to beat Shana Dobson:
Sabina Mazo came into the UFC with a lot of hype behind her following a couple of devastating head kick KOs. She looked a little flat in her debut, but I think she can use her kicks to stay out of Shana Dobson’s boxing range and earn a decision.
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Brandon is a long-time combat sports fan who has covered fights since 2017. His work can be found at The Scrap News, The Body Lock, and Fansided MMA. Follow Brandon on Twitter (@B_S_Sibcy).