Cormier stops heavyweight Miocic to win 2nd UFC title belt

By Greg Beacham, AP Sports Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Daniel Cormier knocked out the UFC heavyweight champion, argued with a professional wrestler and left the octagon dancing with glee and perfect balance, thanks to one championship belt on each arm.

There will never be another Saturday night like it for the 39-year-old former amateur wrestler who stands on the pinnacle of the UFC.

Make that two pinnacles.

Cormier added the heavyweight championship to his light heavyweight title when he stopped Stipe Miocic in dramatic fashion during the first round of their super fight at UFC 226.

Late in a lively opening round, Cormier (21-1, 1 no-contest) abruptly flattened the UFC’s long-reigning heavyweight kingpin with a right elbow out of a clinch. He finished Miocic (18-3) on the ground with 27 seconds left in the round, landing several shots to the defenseless champion’s head.

Cormier became the second fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Conor McGregor was the UFC’s featherweight champ in 2016 when he took the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez.

“I was a heavyweight for a long time, and I left the division,” Cormier said. “I never knew what I could become, but tonight I got the answer. I’m a two-division champion, baby!”

Cormier, a former Strikeforce heavyweight champion who moved down in weight to avoid fighting a good friend, has never lost to anyone except Jon Jones, the star-crossed former light heavyweight champion who beat him twice. The second victory last summer was changed to a no-contest when Jones failed a doping test, and he remains out of the sport.

Cormier is on top of it with less than a year to go until reaching his self-imposed retirement age of 40.

“I’m 39 years old, and I’ve been second many times,” Cormier said. “But today, I have accomplished everything I ever wanted. From crying in this octagon almost a year ago, to leaving as the heavyweight champion.”

Cormier’s 5-inch height disadvantage and 8-inch reach disadvantage against Miocic proved to be no problems — and he actually weighed a few pounds more than Miocic at weigh-ins on Friday.

“In our studying, we knew Stipe would back out of the clinch a little bit with his hands low, so I worked on that,” Cormier said. “I spent all camp knocking out my training partners, and today I got to do it in the octagon.”

Cormier’s move up to challenge Miocic was only the third superfight in UFC history between reigning champions of two weight classes. Welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre defended his belt in 2009 by battering lightweight champ BJ Penn, and McGregor accomplished his feat less than two years ago in his most recent MMA fight.