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One more fight. That’s what Daniel Cormier is promising. And it doesn’t come any bigger than his UFC 252 main event vs. Stipe Miocic on Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Cormier (22-2, 1 NC) will close a legendary MMA career by challenging Miocic (19-3) for the heavyweight title. This fight caps one of the most memorable trilogies in combat sports history. Cormier won the title from Miocic via knockout in 2018. Miocic regained the belt last summer with a fourth-round TKO.

ESPN has Miocic ranked as the No. 4 pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world and Cormier is No. 6. Both men are surefire future UFC Hall of Famers. UFC president Dana White has said that there is no debate that Miocic vs. Cormier 3 will decide who is the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.

In the co-main event, undefeated prospect Sean O’Malley takes on Marlon Vera in a pivotal bantamweight matchup. O’Malley (12-0) has won twice this year by first-round KO/TKO and is one of the hottest prospects in the sport. Vera (15-6-1) was on a five-fight winning streak prior to his previous bout, a very close split decision loss to Song Yadong in May.

Also on the card, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik meet in a key heavyweight battle. ESPN has dos Santos ranked No. 5 at heavyweight in MMA and Rozenstruik at No. 9. Plus, Merab Dvalishvili meets John Dodson in a bantamweight fight and Felice Herrig returns from a two-year injury absence to face former Invicta FC strawweight champion Virna Jandiroba.

Marc Raimondi, Brett Okamoto and Jeff Wagenheim recap the action as it happens in Las Vegas.

Fight in progress:

Men’s bantamweight: John Dodson (22-11, 10-6 UFC, +210) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (11-4, 4-2 UFC, -250)


Results:

Lightweight: Vinc Pichel (13-2, 5-2 UFC) defeats Jim Miller (32-15, 22-14 1 NC UFC) by unanimous decision

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Jim Miller takes down and tries to submit Vinc Pichel late in Round 3, but he can’t pull it off in time in his featured prelim loss.

Pichel outgrinded one of the most accomplished grinders in UFC history.

In a grueling, back-and-forth fight, Pichel gutted out a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) win over Miller in the UFC 252 featured prelim. It was the most high-profile victory of Pichel’s career and marked by how much success Pichel had on the ground against a mat specialist in Miller.

“Jim Miller is a tough, tough dude,” Pichel said. “That was a tough fight.”

Miller had the advantage early. He was able to take Pichel down in the first round and work for submissions. Before the first-round bell sounded, Miller was working on a calf slicer. In the second, Pichel was the fresher fighter. He landed a head kick that Miller walked through, leading into a takedown. But Pichel was able to get into top position and land ground-and-pound.

Pichel was able to escape from two Miller guillotine choke attempts in the third round and absolutely chewed Miller up in the clinch, landing hard knees to the body and elbows to the head. Pichel closed strong, standing over a prone and bloody Miller while landing blows. Pichel outlanded Miller 17-1 in significant strikes in the third round, per UFC Stats data.

Pichel, 37, has won two straight and six of his past seven. The California native has fought only five times since 2014, but is one of the more durable, underrated men in the UFC lightweight division. Miller, a 36-year-old New Jersey native, came in with the most wins in UFC lightweight history (19) and the third-most wins in UFC history, period (21).

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Strawweight: Virna Jandiroba (16-1, 2-1 UFC) defeats Felice Herrig (14-9, 5-4 UFC) by first-round armbar

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Virna Jandiroba stuns Felice Herrig in under two minutes with a perfectly executed armbar submission at the UFC 252 prelims.

The already deep women’s strawweight division has a newly christened contender.

Jandiroba absolutely ran through the returning Herrig via submission (armbar) at 1:44 of the first round. It was the fourth-quickest submission in UFC women’s strawweight history.

Jandiroba, a grappling master, made it look easy. She took Herrig down right away, got into a dominant position on the ground, then slipped to mount. From there, she transitioned to an armbar. Herrig fought it at first, but Jandiroba got a better grip and torqued on the arm. Herrig had to tap.

“Everybody knows I’m a BJJ [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] girl,” Jandiroba said. “That’s always my Plan A. But I have a Plan B, too. UFC, let me fight. I still have a lot left to show you guys.”

She added that she’d like a top-10 or even top-five opponent next.

Jandiroba, 32, has won two straight after dropping her UFC debut to former champ Carla Esparza in April 2019. The Brazil native is a former Invicta FC strawweight champion with 13 submissions in 16 pro victories. Herrig, a 35-year-old Illinois native, was fighting for the first time since October 2018 due to knee surgery. The 11-year MMA veteran and women’s MMA pioneer has lost three consecutive fights.

Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Men’s featherweight: Danny Chavez (11-3, 1-0 UFC) defeats TJ Brown (14-8, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision

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After a nice combo from TJ Brown, Danny Chavez bounces back and catches Brown with a quick right hand that freezes him and sends him reeling.

A decadelong journey to the UFC culminated in an impressive win for 33-year-old featherweight Chavez.

Chavez, of Miami, defeated Brown via unanimous scores of 29-28. He terrorized Brown’s lead leg with kicks so badly in the first and second rounds that Brown was forced to fight nearly the entire final round from a southpaw stance. Chavez also dropped Brown with a hard right hand in the second round.

To his credit, Brown, who fell to 0-2 in the UFC, showed absolutely no quit. He looked to close space in the final round, to smother Chavez’s leg kicks and potentially land a Hail Mary haymaker to steal the fight. In the end, he wound up winning a round, but Chavez went into a little bit of a conservative style and finished out the victory.

Chavez fought on the regional circuit for the first 10 years of his professional career. He is now riding a four-fight win streak.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Strawweight: Livinha Souza (14-2, 3-1 UFC) defeats Ashley Yoder (7-6, 2-5 UFC) by unanimous decision

Souza was not so active with her punches or kicks, but the ones she did throw landed at a good clip, and that accuracy earned her the nods from all three judges for the Brazilian’s fifth win in her past six bouts.

The 29-year-old out of Sao Paulo, a former Invicta FC champion, relied on big, winging right hands, some of which landed but never cleanly, and also delivered low leg kicks throughout. She was less active than Yoder in all three rounds, but while Souza landed at around 70% in two of the rounds, Yoder only once reached 30%.

Yoder advanced throughout but never could put Souza in a bad position. Souza, who had not fought since July 2019, defended well the whole way.

Yoder, a 32-year-old out of Temecula, California, has been streaky during her UFC career. She lost her first three inside the Octagon, won two in a row and now has dropped two straight.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Heavyweight: Chris Daukaus (9-3, 1-0 UFC) defeats Parker Porter (10-6, 0-1 UFC) by first-round TKO

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Chris Daukaus punishes Parker Porter with a vicious combination and stops him via technical knockout at the end of Round 1.

Daukaus is no small man. He’s weighed in for MMA fights at above the 250-pound mark. But when it comes to speed and agility, Daukaus operates like a much smaller human being.

Using some impressive boxing and footwork, Daukaus, a Philadelphia police officer, stopped Porter by TKO at 4:28 of the first round in a battle between heavyweights debuting in the UFC.

Daukaus dropped Parker earlier in the round with a slick combination. To set up the finish, he slipped a combination and landed a sharp right cross to put Porter on his heels. Daukaus poured it on with combinations and Porter shrank away toward the fence, which led to Daukaus landing a big knee that sent Porter crashing to the canvas. Referee Herb Dean had to step in at that point.

In his postfight interview, Daukaus said while his peers are “big heavyweights throwing bombs” he’s focused on “staying tight” with clean boxing honed at Martinez BJJ in Philadelphia.

Daukaus, 30, has won two straight now. His brother, Kyle, also fights in the UFC. Porter, 35, saw a two-fight winning streak snapped. The barrel-chested Connecticut native weighed 290 pounds last week, per his manager Tyson Chartier, and was able to make weight at 264.5 pounds Friday.

“It feels great to get something I’ve been working for close to 10 year now, so I couldn’t be happier with the results,” Daukaus said. “That’s just things we worked on, you obviously game plan for every opponent, so we seen that he was going to throw a little bit wild punches, big overhand followed by a big left, so we stayed tight, everything down the middle.

“I knew he was going to be fast, so I dropped a lot of weight for this fight. Just changing the diet, changing everything, so I knew that I was faster than him and I knew I could definitely land with a simple one-two down the middle. I’ll get back in as soon as I can, get cleared with medicals, get cleared with work, get cleared with the UFC and whoever wants to throw down in the cage, I’m down.”

Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Featherweight: Kai Kamaka (8-2, 1-0 UFC) defeats Tony Kelley (5-2, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision

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Kai Kamaka III and Tony Kelley trade blows in the last 20 seconds of Round 2 at the UFC 252 prelims.

Featherweight newcomer Kai Kamaka picked up his first win in the UFC — and sixth consecutive overall — by defeating Tony Kelley via unanimous decision.

The 145-pound bout was incredibly high-paced and saw Kamaka become the first fighter in UFC history to land 100 significant strikes and score five takedowns in his UFC debut. Kamaka, 25, won the bout via scores of 29-28.

Fighting out of Pearl City, Hawai’i, Kamaka seized control of the fight early, as he walked Kelley down with right hands and body work. Kelley responded well at times with outside leg kicks and the jab, but Kamaka’s strikes had far more weight behind them, and he seemed to find his range well.

Kamaka showed off his ground game in the second round, working some good ground-and-pound throughout. Kelley responded in a big way in the third, however, as he repeatedly reached for the clinch and threw stinging knees to Kamaka’s midsection. Kamaka responded with flurries to the body of his own, but Kelley landed the better offense in the third.

Kamaka earned a UFC roster spot on short notice, after the UFC lost a main card bout to a positive COVID-19 test earlier this week.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Still to come:

UFC heavyweight title fight: Stipe Miocic (c) (19-3, 13-3 in the UFC, +100) vs. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC; 11-2, 1 NC UFC, -120)
Men’s bantamweight: Sean O’Malley (12-0, 4-0 UFC, -300) vs. Marlon Vera (15-6-1, 9-5 UFC, +250)
Heavyweight: Junior Dos Santos (21-7, 15-6 UFC, +110) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1, 4-1 UFC, -130)
Men’s featherweight: Herbert Burns (11-2, 2-0 UFC, -265) vs. Daniel Pineda (26-13, 3-4 UFC, +225)

(c) = defending champion

https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/29661709/ufc-252-stipe-miocic-vs-daniel-cormier-live-results-analysis

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