“I know it may be hard to believe, but the biggest story in the MMA world had little — though not nothing — to do with UFC Fight Night 125 on Saturday in Belem, Brazil. It sounds strange, since apparently the event was important enough to justify a 15-hour run time, or at least that’s how it felt. However, as good as it felt to see Lyoto Machida snap a three-fight losing streak in front of a supportive crowd of countrymen, a more pressing development was going on behind the scenes.
It was announced that heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will fight light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier in the UFC 226 headliner in July. That alone is big news. This is the first champion-versus-champion match in Ultimate Fighting Championship history to take place above welterweight, and it’s a genuinely compelling clash on its own. Cormier was undefeated at heavyweight for four years and 13 fights, and he didn’t just beat scrubs. Former UFC champions and title contenders like Frank Mir, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva and Jeff Monson decorate his heavyweight ledger, and eight of his 13 wins resulted in stoppages. Cormier was a legitimate heavyweight talent despite being small enough to compete at light heavyweight. Now that Miocic is short on viable contenders, this is one of the best matchups on the UFC roster for the heavyweight champion.
Yet it isn’t just the matchup itself that is noteworthy. How the fight materialized is just as significant and potentially much more so depending on how the future shakes out…”