The rubber match of the greatest rivalry in the UFC’s heavyweight division will occur on Aug. 15 in Las Vegas when heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defends his belt in the main event of UFC 252 against former champion Daniel Cormier. A venue has not been announced for the event, but it likely will be held at the UFC Apex arena.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the bout.
Cormier, who is ranked fifth in the current UFC pound-for-pound rankings, knocked out Miocic at 4:31 of the first round on July 7, 2018, in the main event of UFC 226 at T-Mobile Arena. Cormier was moving up from light heavyweight, where he held the title, and at the time became only the second fighter in UFC history, joining Conor McGregor, to hold two belts simultaneously.
Cormier defended the belt successfully once when he defeated Derrick Lewis, setting up a rematch with Miocic at UFC 241 on Aug. 17, 2019, in Anaheim, California.
Cormier was controlling the rematch, but Miocic began going to the body late in the third round and that hurt Cormier. Miocic followed up on his advantage in the fourth and stopped him at 4:09 of that round to regain the championship.
Cormier said he will retire after the bout, win or lose, but was excited by the opportunity to go out on top.
“This is an unbelievable fight,” White said. “This is for everything at heavyweight. The winner of this fight will be the champion as well as the greatest heavyweight of all-time. They’ve had two great fights before and they have been anxious to do it again and settle this thing finally.”
Cormier said as he has gotten older, he has begun to think more of his legacy and that going out with a fight against an opponent the caliber of Miocic is significant.
Talks to make the rubber match dragged on and were complicated when the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Miocic is a fireman in Cleveland and was working as a first responder and unable to train properly.
Now that the fight is set, Cormier couldn’t be happier.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “The ability to compete for the heavyweight championship is awesome and to compete against a guy I do respect so much means a lot. It’s an opportunity to finish on top, which is something I could never have imagined so long ago.
“Legacy thoughts apply as you are winding down, like I am, and after you have had a number of accomplishments. Not everybody gets to speak of legacy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve spoken about it at length. I’m on the doorstep of the final chapter now and it’s often on my mind. When I get up in the morning, if I don’t want to, I think of that. When I’m tired, frustrated, whatever, I think of my legacy and what an opportunity this is for me.”
There won’t be a significant change in his plan, Cormier said, because things were working well at UFC 241. He said he has to be cognizant of what Miocic is trying to accomplish because Miocic is sturdier than most opponents.
“I have to be more aware and respectful of his power and ability the next time around,” Cormier said. “I was able to land some shots and I think in the end, I’d landed 75 percent of my strikes. Generally, if I am landing three of every four I throw, guys aren’t tough enough to withstand that. But Stipe is. That’s one of the things that makes him different, and makes him great.
“If I’m landing at that clip again, I have to stay the course because I know how tough he is and because what will be coming back in my direction will be absolute bombs. I just need to be more aware and keep my hands up, defend the body shots and not let up.”
More from Yahoo Sports: