mma / Columns

411’s UFC 241: Cormier vs. Miocic 2 Preview

August 17, 2019 | Posted by Dan Plunkett
UFC 241

Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic run it back with the heavyweight title on the line in the main event of UFC 241! In the co-main event, Nate Diaz returns from a three-year absence to fight former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis! At middleweight, the ageless Yoel Romero looks to push the rising Paulo Costa back down the ladder. Plus, Gabriel Benitez fights Sodiq Yusuff, Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch, and more!


  • He’s 411’s Jack of All Trades, Jeffrey Harris!

  • Your host, Dan Plunkett!

  • He’ll lock you in the guillotine, Robert Winfree!

    First three prelims stream on UFC Fight Pass, rest air on ESPN.
    Flyweight Bout: Sabina Mazo vs. Shana Dobson

    Jeffrey Harris: Sabina Mazo, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Dobson, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Sabina Mazo, Decision

    Bantamweight Bout: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Brandon Davis

    Jeffrey Harris: Kyung Ho Kang, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Kang, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Kyung Ho Kang, Decision

    Strawweight Bout: Hannah Cifers vs. Jodie Esquibel

    Jeffrey Harris: Hannah Cifers, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Cifers, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Hannah Cifers, Decision

    Catchweight (140 lbs.) Bout: Manny Bermudez vs. Case Kenney

    Jeffrey Harris: Manny Bermudez, Submission, Round 2
    Dan Plunkett: Bermudez, Submission, Round 1
    Robert Winfree: Manny Bermudez, Submission, Round 1

    Lightweight Bout: Christos Giagos vs. Drakkar Klose

    Jeffrey Harris: Drakkar Klose, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Klose, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Drakkar Klose, TKO, Round 3

    Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen

    Jeffrey Harris Raphael Assuncao, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Assuncao, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Cory Sandhagen, Decision

    Lightweight Bout: Devonte Smith vs. Khama Worthy

    Jeffrey Harris: Devonte Smith
    Dan Plunkett: Smith, KO, Round 1

    Middleweight Bout: Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch

    Jeffrey Harris: Derek Brunson’s last fight against Elias Theodorou was nothing to write home about, but he managed to walk away with a win. He now faces Ian Heinisch, who won on the Contender Series to earn his spot on the UFC roster. After that, he scored back to back wins over Cezar Ferreira and Antonio Carlos Jr. Brunson may not be an elite world beater, but he is a decent fighter who knows his way around the Octagon. He should be able to deal with an opponent of Ian Heinisch’s character with his wrestling and overall striking game.

    Winner: Derek Brunson, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: Heinisch is on a roll, while it appears Brunson has hit the back 9 of his career. Brunson has mostly lost to elite level fighters, so his slide could be overstated, but I think Heinisch is ready to step up a level.

    Winner: Heinisch, Decision

    Robert Winfree: Derek Brunson seems like he’s peaked. There’s a fair bit of ability, he’s a good wrestler and has heavy hands but never really put everything together. He’s never really found a balance of aggression and patience, plus he tends to forget his wrestling and just strike when he shouldn’t. Heinisch is in a slightly odd spot where we’ve seen potential but have no idea just how good he is or can be. Heinisch is a pretty good all around kind of talent, and I think he’ll do enough to stifle Brunson here.

    Winner: Ian Heinisch, Decision

    Featherweight Bout: Gabriel Benitez vs. Sodiq Yusuff

    Jeffrey Harris: Gabriel Benitez faces another Contender Series prospect, who has won back-to-back fights in the UFC. I actually believe Benitez is an underrated fighter. He’s well rounded and done fairly well for himself in the UFC so far, going 5-2. I think he’s probably going to pull off an upset here with his strong submission game.

    Winner: Gabriel Benitez, Submission, Round 1

    Dan Plunkett: I can’t recall seeing Yusuff fight before. Guess I’ll flip a coin. Heads wins.

    Winnner: Benitez, Decision

    Robert Winfree: This fight should be fireworks. Gabriel Benitez is a bit of a wild man, he’s got decent power and a good enough transition game but he’s been out struck and out grappled in the past. Here it feels like he’s supposed to make Yusuff look good. Sodiq Yusuff has fast and powerful punches, he’s still young enough in his career that we haven’t seen much of his ground game and I don’t think Benitez is going to force a tremendous amount of grappling in this fight. I expect Yusuff to keep rolling here with a highly visible finish.

    Winner: Sodiq Yusuff, TKO, Round 1

    Middleweight Bout: Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa

    Jeffrey Harris: Paulo Costa finally gets a nice step up in competition here. Yoel Romero looks to put his previous missed weight cuts and losses to Robert Whittaker behind him. Now, Yoel Romero is at a very advanced age for this sport at 42, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down just yet. Costa is a good prospect with a ton of potential, but I believe he’s never faced the type of fighter with the abilities of Yoel Romero. In all of his UFC fights, he’s never faced a wrestler of Romero’s caliber. And Johny Hendricks in 2017 at middleweight doesn’t count. I like Romero, but this is definitely a good chance to see if Cost can deal with this type of challenge. Can he defend the takedowns and wrestling? Not to mention, Romero is no slouch himself when it comes to knockout power. Look what he did to Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold. Romero is also dangerous with his striking. However, I think it’s the wrestling and grappling that will ultimately do Paulo Costa in.

    Winner: Yoel Romero, TKO, Round 3

    Dan Plunkett: We haven’t seen Yoel Romero for more than a year and he’s 42, but he might as well be 22 because age doesn’t seem to matter for him. Romero has faults and can drop rounds, but my word can he flip a fight on a dime. I love the test that this provides for both fighters. I’m through questioning Romero at this point, but you could question how he’ll look at his age and after his layoff. On the other hand, Paulo Costa hasn’t fought in a similar length of time and hasn’t faced an opponent anywhere near Romero’s level. I lean toward the more proven fighter, but this will be interesting.

    Winner: Romero, TKO, Round 2

    Robert Winfree: I need a pretty convincing reason to pick against Yoel Romero, and Costa just doesn’t provide it yet. Costa has power and a pretty decent variety of body and head offense, but he tends to disproportionately favor his hands and only really finds sustained success when his opponent is backed into the cage. In open space Costa is much less effective overall. Romero is pretty good everywhere and has given the best middleweight in the world all he could handle and then some, so I’m leaning towards Romero.

    Winner: Yoel Romero, TKO, Round 3

    Welterweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz

    Jeffrey Harris: My main issue is that Nate Diaz is fighting for the first time in about three years. However, he’s fighting Anthony Pettis, and the fight is at welterweight. So, I see this as a very winnable fight for Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz is very good at goading his opponents into getting the fight where he wants it to be. Anthony Pettis is a great striker, and he definitely has some dynamic kickboxing, but he’s not the champion he once was. Pettis is probably the better kickboxer, while Dias is the better boxer. Pettis does have an underrated grappling and submission game, but I would say not on the level of Diaz’s BJJ. I think Diaz ultimately turns it into a Diaz brawl and wins the fight.

    Winner: Nate Diaz, TKO, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: The top of this card is littered fighters coming back from long layoffs. Diaz is king among those with a 3-year absence heading into Saturday. But strangely, I’m more confident about how Diaz will perform than I am about Pettis. There are certainly avenues to victory for Pettis, and a few years ago I would have favored him strongly to follow those to a win. I’m much less certain now. I can see him chopping Diaz down and throwing off his rhythm, but I lean toward Diaz winning an exciting (and bloody) fight.

    Winner: Diaz, Submission, Round 3

    Robert Winfree: This fight could go either way, if Pettis stays mobile and chops at Diaz with leg kicks he could hobble him and either set up a high kick or win a decision. But Pettis struggles with pressure and Diaz is a pressure machine unless you give him a very solid reason not to come forward. Pettis was also jabbed up by Stephen Thompson and Thompson’s jab is a bit less educated and practiced than Diaz’s. I wont be surprised with either man winning but slightly favor Diaz.

    Winner: Nate Diaz, Decision

    UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic

    Jeffrey Harris: Daniel Cormier looks to cement his legacy with a rematch against the only man who was ever able to defend the UFC Heavyweight Championship three times. Stipe Miocic looks for redemption after getting knocked out by Cormier just over a year ago. Now, I can see ways that Stipe Miocic can win this fight. If he’s a little more strategic, uses his distance and footwork more, he might be able to catch Cormier off guard. Plus, Cormier does leave openings and tends to be hittable. Both men have some of the best cardio in the heavyweight division. And that’s impressive for Stipe, since he is not a small man. Overall, I’m leaning toward Cormier, but I do expect a tough and grinding fight instead of a knockout finish in the first round.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: These two are well-matched. The first fight played out in a way that doesn’t give me a strong feel for how this one will go. Had that bout gone another round or two, I think we’d have a much clearer picture of what to expect here. I would expect Miocic to be more committed to maintaining his distance on the feet here. If he starts to feel uncomfortable there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wrestle early and use his strength edge, but I’m not sure that’s a viable long-term strategy in the fight. I’m sure we’ll see Cormier kicking when on the outside and reaching and grabbing to get inside. Both fighters have defensive holes; Cormier in particular puts himself in dangerous spots but only rarely has it been a problem for him. But you can only play with fire so many times, especially at heavyweight. I don’t expect Cormier to knock him out this time—at least in the same manner as last time—and my general feeling holds the same as last year: the fight turns more for Cormier as it wears on, but Miocic has a good chance to win inside the distance and could take a decision. If Cormier wins inside the distance, I’d think it’s after a period of wearing Miocic out and taking him down. My best guess is that if it goes the distance or we see a late stoppage, Cormier wins. But I keep coming back to Miocic’s power and Cormier’s age and holes.

    Winner: Miocic, KO, Round 2

    Robert Winfree: I liked their first fight for what it was, both men had success but it was Cormier finding a habit of Miocic’s and exploiting it that ultimately made the difference. For the rematch I don’t expect it go exactly the same but I’m having a hard time seeing a real reason to pick a different winner. Miocic has good boxing, good wrestling, good cardio, good power, he’s not the most accomplished UFC heavyweight champion for nothing. Cormier just has a defensive style that troubles boxing, better wrestling, and an ability to find offense in the in between segments of fighting. I think Cormier keeps the belt here, but I expect a longer and slightly more grueling fight.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, Decision

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