Last Updated Nov 03, 2022, 9:06 AM
UFC 252 Miocic vs. Cormier Picks and Predictions
- August 14, 2020
- By Brian Edwards
The stakes for Saturday’s UFC 252 main event are clear. When former two-division champion Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier faces current heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic in the rubber match of their triology, the right to accurately lay claim to the title of the greatest heavyweight in UFC history is on the line.
- Date: Saturday, August 15, 2020
- Venue: UFC Apex Center
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Expected Fights: 11
- Championship Bouts: 1
- TV/Time: ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN PPV 6:00 p.m. ET
Main Card Picks
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
The 41-year-old Cormier (22-2-0-1 MMA, 11-2-0-1 UFC) won his first 15 career fights as a heavyweight, including a first-round knockout victory over Miocic to win the belt at UFC 226 on July 7 of 2018. He defended the strap with a second-round submission win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 less than four months later.
However, in the rematch vs. Miocic at UFC 241 on Aug. 17 of 2019, Cormier tired in Round 4 after seemingly winning each of the first three stanzas. Miocic turned the tide of the fight with body shots in the fourth frame. He landed a total of 13 punches to the body before dropping Cormier with a powerful right and subsequent punches that ended the bout with 51 seconds left in Round 4.
When Cormier initially beat Miocic, who had just become the first UFC heavyweight champion to successfully defend the belt three straight times in the division's history, he took aim at a money fight with Brock Lesnar rather than giving Miocic an immediate rematch.
When Lesnar opted to re-sign with the WWE, the Cormier-Lesnar matchup never materialized, setting up the rematch with Miocic and DC at UFC 241. Since Miocic’s win, he’s needed time to recover from retinal damage sustained from multiple eye pokes in the rematch with Cormier. But finally, the trilogy scrap has arrived.
Cormier has claimed that he didn’t wrestle in the rematch due to back issues. He also feels like the smaller Octagon at the UFC APEX Facility bodes well for him working single-leg takedowns on Miocic.
Miocic (19-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) is ranked fifth in UFC heavyweight division history in wins, fourth in KO/TKO victories with nine, ninth in finishes with nine and is in a three-way tie (with Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia) for first place in heavyweight title fight wins with five. The Ohio native is the heavyweight loop’s all-time leader in total fight-night bonuses with nine.
Miocic won his first three UFC fights before losing to Stefan Struve by second-round knockout in a Fight of the Night performance in 2012. He bounced back with three consecutive victories over Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabio Maldonado.
Then on Dec. 13 of 2014 in another FOTN, Junior dos Santos won a unanimous decision over Miocic in a close five-round battle. Next, Miocic defeated Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski with KO wins to earn a title shot vs. Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 on May 14 of 2016 in Brazil.
Miocic blasted Werdum with a one-punch KO while backing up to avoid a rushing Werdum, cashing tickets as a +160 underdog. He defended his belt with consecutive first-round KO triumphs over Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 (the first UFC event in Cleveland) and Dos Santos at UFC 211.
Then at UFC 220, Miocic survived a first-round onslaught by Francis Ngannou, and then turned the five-round affair into an ugly wrestling match. Ngannou was gassed before the end of Round 2. From there, Miocic would get early takedowns and maintain top position while punishing the challenger in a blowout UD win.
Since then, the 37-year-old Miocic has been in back-to-back fights with Cormier with a loss and a win.
Cormier’s only career defeats have come against Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and Miocic. He owns notable heavyweight victories over Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva (when Silva was off a win over Fedor Emelianenko in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinals), Josh Barnett (to win the Strikeforce title), two-time UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir and Nelson.
Cormier also has notable scalps at 205 pounds over Dan Henderson, Patrick Cummins, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson (twice), former middleweight champion Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir.
‘DC’ has 10 wins by KO, five by submission and seven via decision. Cormier has only officially been finished once by Miocic his last time out. His other loss to Jones came by UD. Jones also KO’d Cormier with a third-round headkick and subsequent punches, but that result was changed to a no-contest after Jones tested positive for turinabol, a banned performance enhancing drug.
Miocic has 15 career wins by KO and four via decision. He’s been KO’d twice and lost to JDS by decision.
The 6-foot-5 Miocic has a six-inch height advantage and an enormous 7.5-inch reach advantage (80-72.5). However, Cormier has a 2.5-inch edge in leg reach.
UFC 252 Predictions
Miocic vs. Cormier
You can easily make a case for either fighter to get his hand raised in this spot. It’s truly a toss-up scrap. Without a ton of confidence, I’m going to go with one unit on Miocic at a -102 price via FanDuel.
Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera
In the co-main event, 14th-ranked bantamweight ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley (12-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will put his unbeaten record on the line against his toughest opponent to date, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. As of early Friday, FanDuel had O’Malley installed as a -290 ‘chalk’ vs. Vera, the +235 underdog (risk $100 to win $235). The total was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -141, ‘under’ +105) at DraftKings.
The 5-foot-11 O’Malley is only 25 years old and appears to be a rising star. He has eight career wins by KO with seven of those coming in Round 1. His lone career submission also came in the opening frame.
O’Malley made his Octagon debut on July 18 of 2017 when he scored a first-round KO win over Alfred Khashakyan on Season 2 of Dana White’s Contender Series. Less than five months later, he won a UD over Terrion Ware at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.
Then at UFC 222 on March 3 of 2018, O’Malley gutted out a UD win over Andre Soukhamthath despite sustaining a foot injury that literally had him fighting on one leg in the third round. The bout garnered FOTN honors. In fact, O’Malley has taken home an extra $50,000 in each of his last three appearances. However, a dispute with USADA over a positive test for ostarine that resulted in a six-month suspension and hip surgery kept him out for two years and four days following the victory over Soukhamthath.
O’Malley made his return on March 7 at UFC 248, defeating Jose Alberto Quinonez with a first-round TKO (head kick and punches). Then at UFC 250 on June 6, O’Malley dusted former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland with a one-punch KO only 1:54 into the opening round. Both wins earned him POTN bonuses.
The 27-year-old Vera (15-6-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) could arguably be on a six-fight winning streak, but his five-fight surge of victories was halted his last time out in a controversial UD loss to Song Yadong. According to MMADecisions, eight media members scored it 29-28 for Vera and one had it 30-27 in Vera’s favor. Eight media members scored it 29-28 for Yadong. All three judges -- the only ones that matter -- had it 29-28 for Yadong. Vera has five KO wins, seven submission victories and has had his hand raised three times via decision. He’s never been finished, with all six career defeats coming from the judges.
O’Malley has a three-inch advantage in height and a 1.5-inch edge in reach. Vera has a one-half inch edge in leg reach (40.5 inches).
UFC 252 Predictions
O’Malley vs. Vera
Yes, this is a significant step up in competition for O’Malley, who is facing a 14-fight UFC veteran who is on a roll and has never been put away in 22 career bouts. Nevertheless, I can’t turn down the plus money on the prop for O’Malley to win by KO/TKO. Let’s go with one unit on O’Malley to win by KO/TKO for a +150 return at FanDuel.
Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
In a heavyweight clash preceding the co-main event, sixth-ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is a -132 favorite vs. fifth-ranked Junior Dos Santos, who is a +112 underdog. The total at DraftKings is 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -134, ‘over’ +100).
The 32-year-old Rozenstruik owns a 76-8-1 kickboxing record with 64 knockouts. He has nine career KOs in 11 career MMA fights, including seven victories via first-round knockout. He is off the first loss of his career at UFC 249 on May 9, when Ngannou put him to sleep in merely 20 seconds.
Dos Santos (21-7 MMA, 15-6 UFC), the 36-year-old former heavyweight champion, is looking to avoid the first three-fight losing streak of his career. He lost to Ngannou by 71-second KO at UFC Minneapolis last summer. Then in January, Curtis Blaydes defeated JDS by second-round KO.
Dos Santos owns 15 career wins by KO, one by submission and five via decision. He’s been KO’d five times, submitted once and lost once via the judges’ scores. The Brazilian will be making his 22nd career walk to the Octagon on Saturday, pulling him into a fourth-place tie with Gonzaga for most career heavyweight appearances.
Dos Santos is in a third-place tie with Derrick Lewis for most career wins (15) in the division. He’s in a second-place tie with Cain Velasquez for most career KOs (10) after Lewis surpassed both men with his KO of Aleksei Oleinik last weekend.
UFC 252 Predictions
dos Santos vs. Rozenstruik
JDS can still beat most ranked heavyweights, but his best days are behind him. His team didn’t do him any favors by letting him go out for the fourth and fifth rounds in both of his losses to Velasquez. My point is he’s absorbed a lot of punishment through the years, and his chin naturally isn’t where it once was. I like Rozenstruik at the -132 price for two units. Let’s also put one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at a -125 price from William Hill.
Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel
In the Prelims headliner on ESPN just before the pay-per-view card gets going, Jim Miller will face Vinc Pichel in a 155-pound clash. As of early Friday, FanDuel had Pichel (12-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) as a -132 ‘chalk’ with Miller at +112 on the comeback. The total at DraftKings was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -139, ‘under’ +105).
The 36-year-old Miller (32-14-0-1 MMA, 21-13-0-1 UFC) will make his 36th career walk to the Octagon in this spot, passing Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone for the most appearances in UFC history. The New Jersey native is 4-2 in his past six fights, with all four wins coming by first-round submissions.
Miller is third in UFC history with 21 career wins, trailing only Cerrone (23) and Demian Maia (22). He is in a fourth-place tie for most finishes (13) in UFC history and ranks third in career submissions with 10. Miller’s 12 career fight-night bonuses are the sixth-most in the annals of the promotion.
UFC 252 Predictions
Miller vs. Pichel
Miller is fighting someone older that him for the first time in years, as Pichel is 37. Six of Miller’s last seven scraps have ended in the opening stanza. Therefore, I’m going to put one unit on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for a +105 return. Also, I’ll go with Miller for one unit as a +112 underdog. Finally, let’s put one-half unit on the prop for Miller to win by submission for a monster +340 payout at FanDuel.
In one final pick, we’ll go with one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at a -110 price (DraftKings) in the heavyweight showdown between Parker Porter and Chris Daukaus.