The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 241 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
In the opening round of the UFC 241 main event, Daniel Cormier picked Stipe Miocic up and carried him for a few moments before depositing him on the canvas.
From there, he spent a decent amount of time in top position, landing effective ground-and-pound until Miocic was able to return to his feet in the waning moments of the period. It was a clear-cut round for “DC,” who outlanded his opponent 37 to 7 in significant strikes and 71 to 9 in total strikes. It was also the only takedown he would land in the fight.
“That [wrestling] was the strategy,” Cormier said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “That’s probably the biggest letdown is how I let my coaches down. They were begging me to wrestle.
“That’s probably the most disappointing thing is that I didn’t do what I was trained to do. I feel like I let my coaches down.”
Instead, Cormier was content to trade in close quarters against Miocic, whom he defeated via first-round knockout in their initial meeting at UFC 226. It was an effective strategy for the most part, as Cormier racked up a 150-to-87 edge in significant strikes through three frames. Most observers – including the cageside judges -- had the American Kickboxing Academy product up at least two rounds to one, if not three to none.
“I think when you start finding success and landing things, you kind of fall in love with it,” Cormier said. “It feels like the [Alexander] Gustafsson fight [at UFC 192] all over again when I wrestled a lot in the first round then for the last four rounds I just didn’t and they were begging me to do it then. Tonight I actually paid the ultimate price for not listening to my coaches. I’m usually pretty good about doing that.”
Unlike his bout with Gustafsson, which Cormier won via split decision, things didn’t turn out so well for “DC” in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday. Miocic really began to find a groove in the Round 4, as he repeatedly attacked his adversary with left hooks to the body. Those blows took their toll, and the Ohio-based firefighter was able to put Cormier on the defensive with one final body shot. From there, he flurried with punches against the fence to reclaim the belt he lost a little more than one year ago.
In defeat, Cormier could do nothing but give credit to his opponent.
“I felt like I was doing pretty good. But then he landed that shot, in the fourth round he landed some good body punches and he landed that right hand that I didn’t see and he got the finish. He did a great job,” Cormier said.
“I kind of took the pressure off a little bit. I don’t know why. Maybe try to rest and recover for the fifth round because he wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know what the reasoning behind it was but obviously it was a mistake.”
At one point in time, Cormier wasn’t even supposed to face Miocic again. The plan was to get a big payday against Brock Lesnar and ride off into the sunset before his 40th birthday. And even though that bout never came to fruition, Cormier was still favored at UFC 241. Had he taken care of business, there would have been plenty of talk regarding a trilogy bout with rival Jon Jones.
Cormier’s competitive spirit could make it difficult for him to retire following a loss. The former two-division champion was careful not to make any decisions regarding his career in the heat of the moment. It could be a little while before “DC” decides what’s next.
“A lot of times we base decisions in emotion. I don’t want to be that guy. I’m going to go back and talk to [my wife] Selina and my coaches and we’ll figure out what’s next,” Cormier.
“Losing is just terrible for me. I’m a competitive guy and just losing any type of fight is just terrible. Being finished to me is just insane. That’s twice I’ve been stopped, that’s not good. I’m smart enough to understand that.”