Prior to UFC 252 it was already pre-programmed in our minds that Daniel Cormier would be fighting his final fight in mixed martial arts (MMA) against Stipe Miocic. It was set up perfectly for the former Olympian, UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion, and ex-Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner to go out on top.
It’s a fairy-tale ending many dream of, but only few attain.
One of the narratives coming into the “Miocic vs. Cormier” trilogy fight was the ever-present danger of “D.C.’s” inadvertent eye pokes. And wouldn’t you know it, Miocic took one from Cormier halfway through round one. And the echoing sounds of “here we go again” were spamming social media. Miocic managed to shake it off and continued on. Meanwhile, it was a fairly-competitive fight throughout the first three rounds before — in truly ironic fashion — Cormier was on the receiving end of a nasty eye poke himself courtesy of the 265-pound champion (see it here).
Cormier went on to fight the remainder of the contest seeing clearly out of only one eye, revealing post-fight all he could see out of his injured eye was darkness.
Nevertheless, Cormier seemingly wrapped up his career with two straight defeats to Miocic, but that does not erase everything he has accomplished in the sport. And let’s not forget he got to the party late, beginning his MMA career at the age of 30. But he caught on so quick and enjoyed success early because he’s been competing his whole life. He is a living legend and up-and-coming fighters can only dream of having a career like his.
That brings us to Sean O’Malley, the brash 25-year old who started his MMA career at the age of 20. He stormed onto Dana White’s “Contender Series” and stole the boss man’s heart, and White has been high on “Suga” ever since. He was being brought up slowly since it was easy to see the promotion had plans on grooming him to be the next big thing, perhaps joining Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya as one of its poster boys.
And he still could very well get there, but as we have seen in the past couple of weeks, things can go south in a hurry for promising prospects, just like they did this past weekend when O’Malley suffered the first loss of his career via first-round knockout (as well as another leg injury).
Now, let’s get one thing crystal clear: Nothing should be taken away from Miocic and Vera for getting the job done. But we live in a world where there will be those who blame the inadvertent eye poke and the freak injury for the losses. And of course, “what if” will be coming out of their mouths in the coming weeks. And that’s okay, fighters want fans, friends and family to ride for them like that.
But at the end of the day, Stipe and “Chito” went in and did what they had to do to get their respective wins. Unfortunately for Cormier and O’Malley, their respective losses will haunt them for months to come. Of course, while it won’t make the loss hurt any less, Cormier won’t have to worry about what it does for his future since he’s done with the sport. But O'Malley will have to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch in order to get to the promised land.
It’s a tale of two crushing defeats for different reasons: A retiring legend doesn’t get his fairy-tale ending and a rising star loses some shine.
For complete UFC 252 results and highlights click here.