We live in an era of hyperbole. Everything is now either the best or the worst thing ever, with little room for discussion in the middle ground.
However, there's no way to possibly over-hype the showdown set to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC® 226 between Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic and Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Coined "The Superfight," this classic will pit two giants, literally, of the sport against one another in a fight that fantasy matchmakers have been dreaming of for years.
With the rise of the Interim Belt over the past few years, the moniker of "Champion vs. Champion" fights have lost their allure, or at least gone down in rarity. But for the champion of one division, like Cormier, to move up a weight class to try and take the belt off of the Heavyweight Champion of the world, that's an event for the history books.
In fact, it's only happened two other times in the UFC®.
At UFC® 94 in 2009, the first-ever champion vs. champion fight took place as Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn moved up to welterweight to fight reigning Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre for his belt. The fight was heavily publicized and marketed as the biggest bout in the promotion's history, and it lived up to the calling. The two legends -- Penn is now a UFC® Hall of Famer and St. Pierre's coronation is impending -- went at it for four rounds, with St. Pierre stopping Penn in the fourth round due to corner stoppage, preventing Penn from becoming a two-weight champion.
Seven years later, the UFC® finally got it's two-division champion when Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor defeated Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC® 205 at Madison Square Garden. McGregor became the first fighter in the history of the promotion to hold two belts simultaneously, however he never defended either of the championships.
While this isn't the first time that a champion of a division is moving up to challenge for another belt, Cormier vs. Miocic still has an aura about it because we've never seen the Light Heavyweight Champion go after the Heavyweight Champion, who is often considered "the Baddest Man on the Planet." Typically, the bigger the fighters, the bigger the fight. And these are two of the biggest fighters the sport has to provide.
So let's take a look at both fighters, their journeys to this point and what made this mega fight possible:
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Stipe Miocic has made his name by ignoring the bombastic fighter personas of today and choosing to be authentic in his presentation. Oh yeah, he also happens to be the greatest heavyweight in UFC® history.
Miocic introduced himself to the UFC® fanbase in 2011 with a unanimous decision victory over Joey Beltran and then rode a three-fight winning streak before his first career loss against Stefan Struve. He then went on another three-fight win streak before losing to Junior Dos Santos by unanimous decision in 2014.
That loss to Dos Santos turned a corner for Miocic, and he never looked back. He dismantled Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski by TKO in his next two fights and was awarded his first UFC® title fight opportunity as a result.
On May 24, 2016 in Brazil, Miocic met Fabricio Werdum in The Octagon® for a chance at heavyweight gold. Miocic stopped Werdum 2:47 into the first round to claim the heavyweight championship and start his title reign.
Miocic wrote his name in the record books on January 20, 2018, when he defeated Francis Ngganou by unanimous decision to break the record for the most consecutive UFC Heavyweight title defenses at three successful defenses.
With the heavyweight division cleared out of contenders, Cormier has answered the call to see if he can be the one to dethrone the heavyweight division's king.
At 39-years old, Daniel Cormier has little left to prove in his competitive career. Cormier started his athletic career as a wrestler at Oklahoma State, where he earned All-American honors in 2001.
Cormier pursued wrestling after college and was named a member of the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams (he did not compete in 2008, however, due to kidney failure).
After the 2008 Olympics, Cormier transitioned into mixed martial arts and his career took an exponential turn. He made his name in MMA with Strikeforce, winning his first 11 professional fights and being crowned the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion before the UFC® acquired Strikeforce in 2013.
Following the acquisition, Cormier won his first four fights (two at heavyweight and light heavyweight, respectively), before being granted a light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones, who will go down in the books as Cormier's greatest rival.
He lost the bout with Jones by unanimous decision after a five-round war, but was given a title shot in his next fight after Jones was stripped of the light heavyweight championship. On May 23, 2015, Cormier submitted Anthony Johnson to claim the vacant title and start his first reign as champion.
Cormier defended his title two times before a rematch with Jones was scheduled. The fight was ruled a no contest after Jones tested positive for turinabol in his system and Cormier reclaimed his belt.
With Jones now in Cormier's past, he's looking for his next big challenge. It turns out that that challenge is the Heavyweight Champion of the world.
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