UFC 226 - The Superfight
When is UFC 226? Sunday 8th July, 2018 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 226? T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada
What channel is UFC 226 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC 226? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier
The biggest ‘super fight’ in UFC history and the only legitimate one since Georges St Pierre vs BJ Penn back at UFC 94. Two champions go head-to-head in a colossal fight that tops an incredibly stacked card.
Daniel Cormier moves back up to heavyweight to challenge Stipe Miocic for his title as well as the tag of the ‘baddest man on the planet’. If Miocic wins, he stretches his UFC record of heavyweight title defences to four but if Cormier wins, he will become the second fighter after Conor McGregor to hold two belts simultaneously.
Both men are at the top of the food chain right now and a win at UFC 226 will cement their legacy as one of the very best fighters of all time. So much is at stake but the fight itself is just as fascinating.
Cormier is unbeaten as a heavyweight (13-0) and one of the best grapplers in MMA so although he will be giving up size and reach to Miocic, he arguably provides the biggest threat to his title so far. Miocic is thoroughly peaking and starched five top contenders before dismantling the terrifying threat of Francis Ngannou in his last fight.
Miocic is in his prime but Cormier will arrive to the octagon in tremendous condition without the stress of a large weight cut. He has great cardio and is always a threat for five rounds but his power, energy and recoverability will be at an even higher level at heavyweight.
Cormier is expected to rely on his grappling and Olympic level wrestling. He will look for the clinch and takedown to smother the heavyweight champ, churn out ground and pound and beat him into submission.
However, Miocic is arguably the strongest opponent Cormier has faced and he is also a terrific wrestler so the grappling exchanges will be intriguing. Miocic is also severely threatening at close range; he has a powerful clinch and requires minimal space to inflict a knockout blow.
Even though Cormier has eaten bombs from Anthony Johnson, he cannot rely on the strength of his chin and has to avoid the powerful hands of Miocic. So, Miocic will want to keep the fight on the feet and leverage his power to diffuse Cormier’s wrestling and set up head strikes whereas the more energized light heavyweight champ will look to overwhelm, suffocate and grind his way to becoming the two-division champion.
This is such a tough fight to call but if Cormier avoids the hands of Miocic, his cardio and grappling can take the fight into dark waters and squeak out a decision but the sheer power of Miocic at close range will be too much of a threat over five rounds.
Winner: Miocic via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric
Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis
If Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier and Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega wasn’t enough, we are also treated to two of the biggest hitters in the UFC to set up the main events. Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou takes on Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis which will have everyone on the edge of their seats for however long it lasts.
From a humble background, Ngannou entered the fight world only five years ago and with a freakish natural stature and athletic ability he rocketed to 11-1, finishing every win (seven knockouts and four submissions). This led him to a title fight against Miocic which had many people picking The Predator for the upset but it was not his day and his grappling was found out as he lost via a decision.
However, this is priceless experience as he prepares for another very experienced fighter. Lewis has had 13 UFC fights (10-3) and also possesses frightening knockout power. Although less chiselled, he is also athletic and his cardio continues to improve, although this fight is unlikely to leave the first round.
This is one of those fights that can end at any moment. When they have this much power in their hands it doesn’t matter how strong their chin is – one touch and it will be lights out. They are the same size but Ngannou has a four-inch reach advantage which will be important in the exchanges.
They are both going to aggressively but technically trade bombs and hope they land before the other. The Black Beast is arguably more rounded and Ngannou’s weakness is his wrestling but when he is on top he has a dangerous submission game. That said, if the fight goes to the floor it will likely be due to a strike and the damage will already have been done.
This is not so much a case of who the better fighter is but who can land that killer blow and it is hard not to back the killer instincts of The Predator.
Winner: Ngannou via KO/TKO
Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis
This fight has been rescheduled after the infamous incident involving Conor McGregor and his team prior to UFC 223. Two days before the fight, Michael Chiesa had to withdraw after suffering multiple cuts to the face after being on the receiving end of a dolly thrown by McGregor. The dolly hit the window of a bus carrying fighters and unfortunately Chiesa was sitting behind that window.
Frustrating to say the least but he now meets Anthony Pettis at UFC 226. There was a time where it was hard to think of any fighter that had more potential than Pettis. Although he earned the lightweight title, he has never quite lived up to that potential which is a shame considering some of the electrifying performances he has put on.
Despite losing five of his last seven, Pettis is desperate to display his pedigree and now he has moved back up to lightweight and his training camp is going a lot smoother than his last fight against Dustin Poirier, there is a good chance we’ll get to see him light up the T-Mobile Arena in vintage Pettis fashion.
However, he has a legitimate contender in front of him. Michael Chiesa is a tricky fighter; he has an obvious strength which is his grappling and only has two losses to his name, the second of which came in his last fight against Kevin Lee.
These are two grappling wizards with slick submission games and lightening quick transitions, so it would be a real treat to see them battle it out on the mat which is where Chiesa will hope the fight stays.
Pettis, however, is a threat everywhere and is just as slick on the feet. It is hard to bet against Chiesa, especially if the fight is fought at a close distance but if the Pettis of old turns up, a stunning finish could be on the cards.
Winner: Pettis via KO/TKO
Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr.
We have a fitting appetiser to kick off the main card between two ferocious strikers who are fully expected to throw down in a brutal slugfest. Gokhan Saki makes his third MMA appearance against Khalil Rountree Jr. in what will be his sixth UFC fight.
After losing in the final of The Ultimate Fighter, Rountree was gifted another chance but lost his second UFC fight to Tyson Pedro. However, he responded with two exceptional knockouts against Daniel Jolly and Paul Craig, showcasing his powerful and explosive striking. He then lost via a decision to Michal Oleksiejczuk but that was overturned due to the Pole failing a drugs test.
The main course for fight fans has to be Saki. He is a Kickboxing legend with a record of 83-12 and after an unsuccessful first attempt at MMA in 2004, he returned and knocked out Henrique da Silva at UFC Fight Night 117 in a thrilling fight.
Both men are destructive strikers with minimal interest in grappling – especially Saki who after a long Kickboxing career is solely interested in applying these skills and putting on a spectacle for the fans.
Expect these juggernauts to exchange from the bell, hunting each other’s chin. They both possess devastating knockout power in all limbs and will be confident they can land so every striking stat is important.
If the fight stays on the feet, you have to favour Saki but even though Rountree prefers to stand and bang – eight years of MMA training will surely mean his grappling is good enough to take the fight away from the Kickboxer.
Winner: Rountree via Decision