UFC 241 - Anaheim Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 241? Sunday 18th July, 2019 - 01:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC 241? Honda Center, Anaheim, California
What channel is UFC 241 on? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC 241? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ which can you sign up to here!
Are tickets still available for UFC Fight Night 241? https://www.ufc.com/tickets
Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
Miocic has finally been granted his wish - a rematch against Daniel Cormier after he lost his crown over a year ago at UFC 226. Cormier caught him clean to send him to sleep and become a simultaneous two-division champion but as the lucrative ship has sailed for Brock Lesnar, ‘DC’ has settled for this rematch.
After knocking out Miocic, Cormier made one title defence against Derrick Lewis which was hardly a contest. As expected, Cormier man-handled ‘The Black Beast’ and eventually submitted him. Flirting with retirement, he was holding out for the big money fight but now has a much tougher assignment against the ravenous former champion.
Miocic has been stewing on this fight for a year and is still bitter. He believes he was caught with a lucky punch and has demanded a rematch ever since. Miocic is fortunate that Lesnar or Jon Jones have not put their name in the hat as there is little to gain for Cormier but the champion has stepped up to cement his legacy.
Miocic lost emphatically last time out but he was winning the round before getting clapped. It was slow-paced as Miocic stifled the grappling attempts of the decorated wrestler but underestimated Cormier’s power, who began to land combinations and leg kicks before landing a perfectly prepared right hand out of the clinch.
Cormier’s wrestling is at an elite level but Miocic had the power and skill to nullify these skills. On paper, Miocic should dominate the stand-up battle as a former Golden Gloves champion with a significant height and reach advantage but he just did not utilise that reach and walked into Cormier’s range.
Cormier does not have the striking technique of Miocic but he is devastating in the pocket so Miocic needs to maintain the distance. After thinking about their fight for a year, he will not only have prepared for this but will also be as motivated as he has ever been in his career.
Cormier has a granite chin and illusive head movement but can be hit and if Miocic executes his game plan, he has the power to find a knockout of his own.
Winner: Miocic via KO/TKO
Anthony Pettis vs Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz returns after three years out of the game and has a mouth-watering match-up in the form of Anthony Pettis at welterweight. Diaz doesn’t seem to like anyone and Pettis has a genuine dislike for the Stockton native, adding more beef to the UFC 241 card.
Pettis is 4-6 in his last 10 but he has fought in three different weight classes against a murderer’s row. He lost to Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson at lightweight and Max Holloway at featherweight.
However, he keeps reminding us how dangerous he can be with submissions over the likes of Charles Oliveira and Michael Chiesa but he put on a vintage showtime performance in his last fight moving up to welterweight. He took on kickboxing champion Stephen Thompson and cleaned his clock with a beautiful superman punch.
We have not seen Diaz since his memorable feud with Conor McGregor. It’s a real shame we have not seen him compete as those McGregor fights put a huge price tag on his name but the UFC missed a trick in not getting him in the cage, as well as his brother Nick for that matter. Thankfully, egos have been dropped and two huge fan bases get to see a fight for the ages.
They are both as slick as it gets on the ground but only expect a submission if they get dropped. This is likely to be another bloody battle on the feet and they will be packing a lot of power at 170 lbs.
Even though Diaz has been out for so long, he will arrive in great condition as always. He has an important reach advantage which he will use expertly, fighting long and technically with a relentless pressure.
Diaz is the better boxer but Pettis has more speed and variety of attacks. His kicks in particular could be a deciding factor and Pettis will be well aware Diaz is not good at checking leg kicks. He has also been more active, and that knockout over Thompson will fuel his confidence. Three rounds will suit Pettis more, especially at welterweight, but Diaz is notoriously hard to put away.
Winner: Pettis via Decision
Yoel Romero vs Paulo Costa
This clash of titans has been scheduled four times with the bouts scrapped for various reasons but thankfully these two specimens have been squeezed on to the stacked UFC 241 card. Yoel ‘The Soldier of God’ Romero and Paulo ‘Borrachinha’ Costa look to make a statement in the only way they know how – a violent knockout.
Romero has not fought for over a year since his second loss to Robert Whittaker. They were both title shots and close decisions but the Aussie is the only man to have his number in recent years. At the age of 42 he is desperate for another chance at gold and the Olympic silver medallist possesses a physique that belongs on stage and athleticism a 21-year-old linebacker would be blessed to have.
One of the only fighters that matches the Cuban’s physical attributes is Costa. He is like a stick of dynamite with devastating power and explosiveness. He has won all four of his UFC fights, erasing his opponents via knockout, and is coming off his most impressive win against Uriah Hall. These four wins continued his 100% finish rate which includes 11 knockouts and a submission.
You just have to look at their finishing stats to predict these fighters' game plans. Romero is an Olympic wrestler and Costa a black belt under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but they will likely stay standing and throw heat.
Romero will be patient and attack in predatory bursts so Costa’s instinct to press forward has to be calculated. If he times his attacks well he can catch Romero sleeping but if not he could get dusted by a knee, elbow or punch he just doesn’t see coming.
They are so fast and explosive a knockout on either side in any round is possible but Costa has not fought anyone on Romero’s level yet and this experience gives the Cuban the edge.
Winner: Romero via KO/TKO
Gabriel Benitez vs Sodiq Yusuff
We have not seen Gabriel Benitez for 15 months since knocking out Humberto Bandenay in a slam 'Rampage' would be proud of. He is back at work and takes on Sodiq Yusuff who is riding hot on a four-fight winning streak.
Benitez is 5-2 in the UFC with losses to Andre Fili and Enrique Barzola but is coming off two quality wins. He earned a decision over Jason Knight and that incredible slam knockout over Bandenay.
Yusuff earned a shot in the UFC after a decision win over Mike Davis on Dana White’s Contender Series. He went on to finish Suman Mokhtarian and earn a unanimous decision over Sheymon Moraes in his last fight.
Yusuff is extremely dangerous on the feet with great technique and ferocious speed and power for a featherweight. Benitez needs to call upon his grappling skills but it may not be enough to avoid the explosiveness of Yusuff.
Winner: Yusuff via KO/TKO
Derek Brunson vs Ian Heinisch
Derek Brunson and Ian Heinisch kick off the main card in Anaheim hoping to join the queue of middleweight title contenders, but only an impressive finish will get them in line.
In Brunson’s last fight against Elias Theodorou many felt Brunson needed exactly that to pick up the win. Theodorou’s awkwardness led to many dull decisions but uncharacteristically, Brunson kept his composure and implemented a game plan to beat the Canadian at his own game. It was an impressive performance after two crushing knockout losses to Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya.
Heinisch is also coming off an impressive decision. He took on Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Antonio Carlos Junior and stifled his grappling remarkably. This was an incredibly tough assignment for a second UFC bout but he proved he is up to the standard and has earned a completely different opponent, stylistically, but just as tough.
They are both great wrestlers, especially Brunson, but we are likely to see explosive exchanges on the feet. Heinisch has a monstrous over-hand right which has put many foes to sleep and his aggression is likely to coax Brunson out into his natural brawling habitat.
Brunson packs so much power he does not need to land often to finish but when he smells blood he becomes wild and unorthodox, neutralizing his reach advantage, which will leave the door open for Heinisch to connect.
Winner: Heinisch via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.