On Saturday, the UFC will put on what was originally its biggest show of the year. UFC 226 is still one heck of a card, but with featherweight champion Max Holloway forced to pull out of the co-main event title bout against Brian Ortega with concussion symptoms, the show has gone from great on paper to just really good.
Still in place heading into Friday morning weigh-ins is the new co-main event featuring heavyweight contenders Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. Also, the spectacular champion-vs-champion bout between heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier.
There’s a lot of talk about UFC super fights, but rarely do they actually happen.
Nine years after then-welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre defended his belt against then-lightweight champ B.J. Penn, the promotion has managed to pair two beltholders for a summer pay-per-view.
UFC officials recently finalized the lineup for UFC 226, which is headlined by a heavyweight title fight between that division’s champion, Stipe Miocic (18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC), and light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC). The event serves as an anchor to the UFC’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas.
The 13-bout card takes place July 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card air live on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Miocic hopes to extend his record-setting run of title defenses by taking out Cormier, a former heavyweight grand prix champ under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner. In January Miocic and Cormier set the stage for the super fight by defending their belts at UFC 220; Miocic took out highly feared striker and fast-rising Francis Ngannou while Cormier stopped insurgent contender Volkan Oezdemir. Cormier pitched Miocic on the idea of a showdown, and the promotion seized the day. The two then appeared as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 27.”
Miocic is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings and the No. 4 fighter on the pound-for-pound list. Cormier is No. 1 at the light heavyweight and No. 3 pound-for-pound.
UFC 226’s main card is the return of heavyweight Ngannou (11-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC), who gets the chance to settle a war of words with fellow heavyweight slugger Derrick Lewis (19-5 MMA, 10-3 UFC). No. 12-ranked Lewis, who in February stopped Marcin Tybura, has trolled Ngannou’s fast rise in the heavyweight division, mocking his cardio in the title bout against Miocic. After his setback, No. 2-ranked Ngannou shifted focus to shutting up his competition.
Rounding out the main card are No. 9 lightweight Michael Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) vs. No. 12 Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) and light heavyweights Gokhan Saki (1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Khalil Rountree (6-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC).
Featured on the FS1-televised preliminary card is the return of middleweight Uriah Hall (19-5 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who got the scare of a lifetime early this year. Slated to face ex-champ Vitor Belfort, Hall suffered a seizure and was rushed to the hospital amid a tough weight cut, scratching the bout. He was booked to meet Paulo Costa (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in April at UFC Fight Night 128, but when Costa fell out due an arm injury, the promotion rebooked the fight for UFC 226.
The top-billed fight on the UFC Fight Pass-streamed prelims features a showdown between Gilbert Burns (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Dan Hooker (16-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC), two promising lightweights on winning streaks. Burns picked up his second straight win in April with a knockout of Dan Moret while Hooker took out veteran Jim Miller with a brutal knee.
The full UFC 226 lineup includes:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
- Champ Stipe Miocic vs. champ Daniel Cormier – for heavyweight title
- Champ Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega – for featherweight title
- Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou
- Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
- Khalil Rountree vs. Gokhan Saki
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. ET)
- Paulo Costa vs. Uriah Hall
- Yancy Medeiros vs Mike Perry
- Raphael Assuncao vs Rob Font
- Max Griffin vs Curtis Millender
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
- Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Hooker
- Jamie Moyle vs Emily Whitmire
- Drakkar Klose vs Lando Vannata