UFC 252 is all over and the greatest heavyweight of all time has been crowned.
With a five round decision win, Stipe Miocic retained his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier to ensure he won the trilogy between the two but also the title of GOAT heavyweight.
It was a tight contest, with both Stipe and Cormier landing heavy shots throughout but DC never really got his wrestling going despite claiming in the build up to the fight that Miocic should “bring his wrestling boots”.
There were no knockouts this time around but there were two eye-pokes. Cormier was first, entering the eye of Stipe once again and receiving a stern warning from referee Marc Goddard in return. He was visibly much more wary of extending the fingers afterwards, which meant he didn’t clinch nearly as much as he wanted to.
But then it was Stipe’s turn to put his finger in his opponents eye, as during an wild exchange towards the end of round 3 he extended his fingers out and in Cormier’s words, went “knuckle deep” into his retina. The referee told Cormier it was a punch as the round ended, but replays showed it was a pretty nasty eye poke.
The fight ended up going the distance and afterwards Cormier confirmed his retirement while stating that for the final two rounds, he could see nothing from his left eye whatsoever. If that is true and he wasn’t exaggerating, then it’s absolutely best he retires. As he said himself, he doesn’t need to be fighting anyone unless its for titles and he’s now come out on the losing side of two trilogies to champions in his weight classes.
Miocic will move on now to fight Francis Ngannou, after Dana White confirmed the Cameroonian is next in line for the belt. Jon Jones however seems to have other ideas, as he live tweeted throughout the fight and ended the night stating he had already worked out how to beat Stipe should they meet.
In the co-main event, O’Malley’s momentum was brought to a screeching halt after a freak injury led to Marlon Vera scoring a TKO win in the first round.
While throwing feints and trying to measure his distance, O’Malley looked to explode across the cage but seemed to roll his ankle completely and possibly break his foot. ‘Chito’ saw it happen and while he didn’t pounce immediately, he knew that ‘Suga’ was hurt. O’Malley was severely demobilised by the pain and just stood still for as much of the fight as he could, looking for the big knockout punch.
When it didn’t come and he lost his balance throwing a strike, Vera jumped on top and landed three vicious elbows that got Herb Dean to call the fight off. What was telling though, was the reaction of O’Malley.
He wasn’t hurt by the strikes, or if he was it certainly wasn’t enough to stop the fight. But instead as soon as the fight ended O’Malley grabbed at his leg and writhed around in agony. He could barely stand alongside Vera and Dean for the official decision and he was then stretchered from the arena.
While there is no official news on the injury yet at the time of writing, it’s unlikely to be an easy road recovery. The path to the title was clear for O’Malley. Despatch of Vera, take on someone in the Top 5 and then claim the title opportunity.
The manner of the defeat will mean his stock shouldn’t drop too much. Fans will know he got injured mid-fight and while that’s part of the game, its an easy reason to run it back when he’s back fit and healthy again. Until then, Vera should now be looking up the rankings with a Top 10 opponent likely in his sights.