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UFC 241 start time, who is fighting TONIGHT at ‘Cormier vs Miocic 2’ in Anaheim

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns TONIGHT (Sat., Aug. 17, 2019) to stage UFC 241 from inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In the main event of the evening, Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will look to defend his belt for the second time against the very man he took it from one year ago, Stipe Miocic. In the co-headlining act, Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz will collide in a pivotal 170-pound match up.

What’s Hot:

Regardless of what happens on Saturday night, Cormier will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time and one of the overall good guys in the sport. He’s already won two separate division titles, he hasn’t tasted defeat at Heavyweight, and had it not been for his two losses to Jon Jones (one of which was later overturned to a “No Contest”), he’d otherwise be perfect in the sport.

Still, “DC” doesn’t need a win over “Bones” to solidify his greatness — that is already set in stone. That said, a second win over Miocic will only elevate his greatness and give him the rare opportunity to go out on top as champion and undefeated at 265 pounds. That’s unheard of.

Of course, Miocic has other plans, as he is adamant “DC’s” win over him was nothing more than a fluke that won’t ever happen again. After sitting out a year -- even if he did act like a brat -- Miocic looks to show UFC made the right decision by giving him another go at Cormier. If Miocic can become the first man to hand Cormier a loss at Heavyweight, he could very well end his career in the process. Another loss to Cormier, however, sends Miocic stumbling down the rankings so fast that getting another title shot will be a huge task. The intrigue with this fight is whether or not “DC” can shock the world again and sleep Miocic. If not, we still have to see if he can go a full 25 minutes at 265 pounds against one of the best to ever do it. Cormier admits Miocic looks and feels a bit stronger, or he cold just be trying to give his foe a false sense of security. Whatever the case, we are in for a great fight.

Diaz decided Pettis was “cool” enough of an opponent to end his three-year hiatus for. That, or he really needs another payday. Nevertheless, the wait is now over and Diaz will make his long-awaited return after coming up short to Conor McGregor at UFC 202. It seemed as if he and Pettis had some sort of beef, but Diaz was quick to do a 180-degree turn and downplay it earlier this week. A win over Pettis would be huge for the Stockton slugger, as he can prove to the fight world that he is a legit player at 170 pounds and not simply trying to ride off his win over McGregor. A loss, however, could very well mean that Diaz will once again go on a long hiatus.

Pettis made a splash in his Welterweight debut by knocking out Stephen Thompson a few months ago. Expecting to face McGregor at UFC 244, he gets Diaz instead, as “Notorious” still doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to return. Despite Diaz’s attempts to downplay any bitterness between them, Pettis is adamant that it is indeed real, and just because Diaz is trying to play it off doesn’t mean it never existed. A win for “Showtime” will raise his stock in a very-crowded 170-pound division.

What’s Not:

There really isn’t much to complain about here. This event is well-balanced with great undercard matchups as well as a trio of main card fights that will all likely be bangers. Fight fans were due for a great card thanks to the two previous offerings UFC had on ESPN+.

Original Card Vs. Actual Card:

John Makdessi was originally lined up to face Devonte Smith, but after he was forced out of the fight for undisclosed reasons, Clay Collard stepped in to fill the void. However, a week ago, Collard was also forced out of the bout and replaced by newcomer, Khama Worthy.

Injuries:

Maryna Moroz suffered an undisclosed injury and was forced out of her women’s Flyweight fight against Poliana Botelho. As a result, Botelho was removed from the event altogether. While not an injury, California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and UFC made an unprecedented move to have the fight between Manny Bermudez and Casey Kenny go up from Bantamweight to a Catchweight of 140 pounds, citing that the men were cutting too much weight in the final days leading up to the fight.

New Blood:

The only newcomer at this event is the aforementioned Worthy (14-6), who was notified of his big shot a week from fight night. He agreed to step in and face Smith at Lightweight after Collard was forced out for an undisclosed reason. Worthy last competed four weeks ago, so getting into fighting shape was no issue. He is currently riding a five-fight win streak, and has fought against UFC vets Paul Felder and Kyle Nelson early in their respective careers, coming up short against both.

Still, “Deathstar” is on a great run as of late, packing tremendous power in his 155-pound frame. Smith, though, will be a tough draw, as he is riding a six-fight win streak and is perfect (2-0) with two first round knockouts inside the Octagon.

To get a more detailed look at Worthy, check out Patrick L. Stumberg’s “New Blood” piece.

How The ‘Prelims’ Look:

The “Prelims” undercard will feature several good fights to get fans ready for the main course. Raphael Assuncao, the man who I feel is often the forgotten contender at 135 pounds, looks to get back in the win column after suffering a tough loss Marlon Moraes earlier this year. The loss snapped the Brazilian bomber’s four-fight win streak, ending his hopes of a title shot. His opponent, Cory Sandhagen, however, is on a roll, winning six straight, including his first four fights under the UFC banner.

In other action, undefeated (14-0, 3-0 UFC) Manny Bermudez will look to keep his winning streak going against Casey Kenny. Once again, this fight was set to go down at 135 pounds, but UFC and CSAC allowed the combatants an extra five pounds after seeing the amount of weight they’d have to cut.

To get a more detailed look at those fights — as well as the rest of the undercard — click here and here.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Going strictly by wins, losses and recent performances, Jodie Esquibel needs a win pretty badly here. Since making her UFC debut way back in 2017, Esquibel has yet to pick up a win in three attempts, losing to Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Angela Hill and Jessica Aguilar, all via decision.

Up next for the Albuquerque, N.M., native is a fight against Hannah Cifers, who is 1-1 inside the Octagon and was most recently seen taking out Polyana Viana at UFC 235. Cifers brings with here plenty of experience, so if she hands Esquibel her fourth-straight defeat, I won’t be too surprised if the promotion cuts her.

Interest Level: 9.5/10

This event is obviously slated to be one of the best cards of the year. UFC 236 and UFC 239 were great on paper and ultimately delivered, but this card might just have an edge on them both. Not only do we get to see if Cormier can duplicate his dominant win over Miocic one year ago at UFC 226, but it could very well be the last time we see “DC” fight inside the Octagon. If Miocic dethrones him, I don’t see Cormier continuing on in his fighting career. Then again, he did say he would go out on his own terms, so he may not like the bitter taste of defeat, and going out like that is something that likely won’t sit well with him.

Also, will Pettis prove that he is the real deal at 170 pounds by taking out one of the most enigmatic figures in MMA today? Can Diaz prove that he is so much more than just the man who handed Conor McGregor his first defeat under the UFC banner? That much and more will be answered once these two talented strikers finally get it on.

The fight that hasn’t been getting a lot of promotional love is one that I am looking forward to the most. Indeed, a Middleweight matchup between bruisers Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa seems to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to UFC’s public relations machine. And I understand, the main and co-main events are fire, but this fight has the potential to steal the show.

The two men have been at each other on social media over the last year. Despite their back-and-forth, Romero doesn’t seem to be taking things too personal and can’t understand the reason Costa is doing so. Nevertheless, there is some hidden (and not-so hidden) animosity between the two men. Thankfully, they get paid to punch each other in the face, and boy can they punch. The intrigue with this fight is who can land the first big punch, and whether or not the recipient can handle it. Costa hasn’t been tested too hard thus far in his UFC career, so Romero will obviously be his biggest challenge to date.

Both men can crack hard, and they can finish fights in a the blink of an eye. Costa has a 100-percent finish rate, all via knockout except for one pesky submission. Romero, meanwhile, has knocked out a a few people in his day, as well, sleeping the likes of Luke Rockhold, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman, just to name a few.

When these two big boys start throwing, someone is bound to go to sleep. The question is: Who will land first?

Also, rising Middleweight contender Ian Heinisch will look to collect his sixth-straight win (third inside the Octagon) when he takes on long-time veteran, Derek Brunson. This will be Ian’s biggest test thus far, as Derek is a wild man when it comes to swinging.

And when he does, it’s not good news for his foes. A win for Heinisch will send him up the rankings, while Brunson looks to score his first set of back-to-back wins since 2017.

Enjoy the fights!

UFC 241 Full Fight Card:

UFC 241 Main Event On ESPN+ PPV:

265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic

UFC 241 Main Card On ESPN+ PPV (10 p.m. ET):

170 lbs.: Nate Diaz vs. Anthony Pettis
185 lbs.: Paulo Costa vs. Yoel Romero
145 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. Sodiq Yusuff
185 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch

UFC 241 ‘Prelims’ Undercard On ESPN (8 p.m. ET):

155 lbs.: Devonte Smith vs. Khama Worthy
135 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Drakkar Klose
140 lbs.: Manny Bermudez vs. Casey Kenney

UFC 241 ‘Prelims’ Undercard On Fight Pass (6:30 p.m.):

115 lbs.: Hannah Cifers vs. Jodie Esquibel
135 lbs.: Brandon Davis vs. Kang Kyung-ho
125 lbs.: Shana Dobson vs. Sabina Mazo

*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.

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