Daniel Cormier brutally knocked out Stipe Miocic in the first round of their first fight, but he wasn’t surprised that Miocic made it to the later rounds in the rematch.
In the UFC 241 main event on Saturday in Anaheim, Miocic recaptured the UFC heavyweight title with a fourth-round TKO of Cormier. “DC” had a strong start to the fight and was up on the scorecards heading into the fourth round, but Miocic made some adjustments that earned him a finish late into the frame.
Cormier said afterward that he expected the rematch to go much longer than the first fight did.
“I knew [Miocic] had a good chin,” Cormier said at the UFC 241 post-fight press conference. “I knew the first time. That punch I’ve landed prior and the guys didn’t go down. I knew it would be different. I anticipated a long fight.”
Both Cormier and Miocic weighed in ahead of the rematch lighter than they did ahead of their first fight in July 2018. For Cormier, it was a difference of 9.5 pounds, from 246 to 236.5.
Cormier said that was because he had a feeling he would have to go into the later rounds the second time against Miocic.
“I figured it would be a longer fight,” Cormier said. “I figured that he wasn’t going anywhere. I understand the motivation in the rematch, and I figured he would be there for the long run — which he was.”
Cormier said he backed off a bit in the fourth round, possibly because he knew he had to save some gas for the fifth round — by then, it was evident to Cormier that Miocic’s chin was holding up.
That ended up biting Cormier in the butt. He said taking the aggression off Miocic may have led to Miocic finding more success and the tides ultimately turning.
“I kind of took the pressure off a little bit,” Cormier said. “I don’t know why. Maybe (to) try to rest and recover for the fifth round, because [Miocic] wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know what the reasoning behind it was, but obviously it was a mistake.”