With the stakes high as ever, Daniel Cormier will have his final professional MMA bout on Saturday. Challenging for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, Cormier will face Stipe Miocic, attempting to get ahead in their rivalry which is currently tied at one fight each. The matchup headlines UFC 252, a pay-per-view event set to go down tomorrow from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Here’s a full preview of the show.
Early Prelims (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Kai Kamaka (7-2) vs. Tony Kelley (5-1) (Featherweight)
Kicking off the evening, Kai Kamaka will make his UFC debut only 15 days after his last fight. Kamaka comes into his fight on a five-fight winning streak, including a win from July over Michael Stack on an LFA card. He faces Tony Kelley, a featherweight who has fought six times as a pro. The most recent fight for Kelley was over a year ago, defeating Andy Brossett in the first round. Kelley’s sole loss in his career came against now-UFC fighter Kevin Aguilar.
Bout 2: Chris Daukaus (8-3) vs. Parker Porter (10-5) (Heavyweight)
Two heavyweights in Chris Daukaus and Parker Porter will make their UFC debut on the UFC 252 preliminary card. Daukaus will be returning after one day short of a year-long layoff, as his last fight was a win over Danny Holmes in 2019 via strikes. His fight before was a loss, failing to capture the CFFC Heavyweight Championship against Azunna Anyanwu. Porter has had a longer career, with fights in promotions like Bellator and regional promotion CES. He has a two-fight winning streak that he carries into Saturday’s bout.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 3: Livinha Souza (13-2) vs. Ashley Yoder (7-5) (Strawweight)
Kicking off the television portion of the show, strawweights Livinha Souza and Ashley Yoder will look to battle back from previous losses. In her last fight in July, Souza (formerly known as Livia Renata Souza) lost via decision to Brianna Van Buren. The loss snapped a four-fight winning streak from previous UFC and Invicta FC bouts. Yoder’s loss comes from farther back, as her last fight was a split decision loss to Randa Markos from October of 2019.
Bout 4: TJ Brown (14-7) vs. Danny Chavez (10-3) (Featherweight)
TJ Brown and Danny Chavez will look for their first UFC win on Saturday. Brown lost his UFC debut in February, being finished in the second round against Jordan Griffin. The “Dana White’s Contender Series” winner carried four wins into the cage in his debut. While Chavez also has something to prove, his fight on Saturday will be his first appearance in the UFC. His last fight was in July, finishing Dylan Cala early with punches, extending his winning streak to three-in-a-row.
Brown missed the non-championship featherweight limit for the bout, coming in at 146.5 pounds on Friday. Due to missing the limit, Brown gave 20 percent of his fight purse to Chavez.
Bout 5: Felice Herrig (14-8) vs. Virna Jandiroba (15-1) (Strawweight)
Felice Herrig will look to avoid a three-fight losing streak when she faces Virna Jandiroba. Herrig’s last two fights went to the scorecards, losing to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson. This bout is her return, as she last competed in late 2018. Part of her break from MMA was due to a torn ACL she suffered in 2019. She faces Jandiroba, who got her first UFC win in her last fight, which was a second-round rear naked choke stoppage over Mallory Martin.
Bout 6: Jim Miller (32-14) vs. Vinc Pichel (12-2) (Lightweight)
UFC veteran Jim Miller will face Vinc Pichel as part of the preliminary card on Saturday. Miller, a 35-fight UFC veteran will be riding the momentum of a June win over Roosevelt Roberts where he tapped him out with an armbar in the third minute of action. Pichel’s last fight was also a win over Roberts, although he comes off a longer layoff as the bout was in June of 2019.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 7: Herbert Burns (11-2) vs. Daniel Pineda (26-13) (Featherweight)
Rising featherweight Herbert Burns will get his biggest challenge in the UFC yet, being matched against Daniel Pineda at UFC 252. Burns, a fighter who got into the UFC through TV series “Dana White’s Contender Series” has won in his first two UFC bouts, stopping Nate Landwehr and Evan Dunham in the first round each. He now fights Pineda, who has 12 more fights than anyone he’s faced in the UFC.
Pineda will be making his return to the UFC after five years outside of the promotion. Pineda’s last two fights were in MMA promotion PFL, although the result of them did not count to his record due to a failed drug test. Pineda had also fought in Bellator and LFA during his time outside of the UFC.
Burns came in three-and-a-half pounds over the featherweight limit at Friday’s weigh-ins. Due to this, Burns gave up 20 percent of his fight purse to Pineda.
Bout 8: John Dodson (21-11) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (11-4) (Bantamweight)
Rising bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili will face household name John Dodson in his next fight. Dvalishvili had a rough start to his UFC career, losing his first two bouts. Things turned around, however, as Dvalishvili has now won his last four matchups. The most recent of the four was in June, getting a decision win over Gustavo Lopez.
Dodson snapped a two-fight losing streak in his last bout, stopping Nathaniel Wood in the third round with strikes. If Dodson wins on Saturday it will be the first time since 2015 that the bantamweight had a streak of more than one consecutive wins.
Bout 9: Junior dos Santos (21-7) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruick (10-1) (Heavyweight)
Earlier this year, the rapid rise of Jairzinho Rozenstruick suddenly came crashing down. After Francis Ngannou charged forward with a few punches last May, he connected with a left hook that took Rozenstruick’s undefeated record, his meteoric rise, and his consciousness. Now, for the first time in his career, Rozenstruick looks to come back from a loss when he faces Junior dos Santos.
Prior to his loss, Rozenstruick had loud and impressive wins. The first two in the UFC happened within seconds, stopping Andrei Arlovski and Allen Crowder in the first minute each. After that, Rozenstruick won in buzzer-beating fashion, stopping veteran Alistair Overeem in the 25th minute of action.
Dos Santos, a UFC veteran, will look to bounce back from two consecutive losses for the first time in his career. The two losses, both finishes, came against notable heavyweights Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes.
Bout 10: Sean O’Malley (12-0) vs. Marlon Vera (17-6-1) (Bantamweight)
The “Suga Show” is one of the current UFC prospects that seemingly keeps on shining. In Saturday’s co-main event, Sean O’Malley will look to remain undefeated and earn his fifth UFC win when he faces Marlon Vera. O’Malley’s last win was an impressive one, stopping veteran Eddie Wineland in the second minute with a walk-off knockout. The win followed what was another impressive performance earlier in the year, where O’Malley defeated Jose Alberto Quinonez early with strikes.
Vera’s last fight was a loss, with scorecards favouring Song Yadong after three rounds in a decision that many disputed. The May bout ended a five-fight streak that “Chito” Vera had in the UFC.
Bout 11: Stipe Miocic (19-3) vs. Daniel Cormier (22-2) (UFC Heavyweight Championship)
In the main event, Daniel Cormier puts on MMA gloves one last time when he faces UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. The fight is a trilogy bout and a tiebreaker between the two fighters who have competed over the belt once in 2018 and 2019 each.
Their first meeting came in 2018 at UFC 226. The victory for Cormier was a quick one, stopping Miocic in the first round with punches while exiting the clinch. The short fight was one that saw strong striking from Cormier, among other questionable tactics like eye pokes, which occurred frequently.
The 2019 encounter was a much longer one, with Miocic getting his title back after taking Cormier into deep waters, finishing him with punches in the 20th minute of competition.
Win or lose, Cormier has indicated to the public that he plans on this fight being his last. Being a massively influential fighter, Cormier’s farewell, whether it is on a high or low note, is one that is important for the sport.
FURTHER READING: For a good breakdown of the action in the first two fights, check out “Becoming Fearless: An Analysis of Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III.”