UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic acknowledges the smaller Octagon in which he will fight Daniel Cormier at UFC 252 on Aug. 15 in Las Vegas probably benefits his opponent, if anyone. But he does not see it having an impact on the result.
Miocic (19-3) will face Cormier (22-2) for the third time at UFC 252, with the series tied at one win apiece. The heavyweight title fight will take place in the UFC's smaller 25-foot Octagon, as opposed to the standard 30-foot Octagon. In general, a smaller cage tends to favor a grappler. Cormier is a former U.S. Olympic wrestler.
Miocic, who defeated Cormier via fourth-round TKO in the second meeting in August 2019, said he preferred a normal-sized cage but will be comfortable.
"A bigger cage is better of course," Miocic told ESPN. "It is what it is. I'm not going to cry about it. I definitely tried to get a bigger cage, but it wasn't in the cards. What are you gonna do? I'm not worried. My [gym's] cage is the same size, and I've been working on everything."
Cormier, who intends to retire after the trilogy bout, has openly stated the smaller cage favors his style. He even told Miocic to "bring his wrestling shoes" for the fight, during a recent episode of ESPN's DC & Helwani show.
Miocic said he remains unconcerned.
"There are a lot more angles and stuff, and getting pushed against the cage, you don't have that extra five feet," Miocic said. "We've definitely been training wrestling more. He said to bring my wrestling shoes. He'll definitely try to wrestle me, but every fight starts standing, don't forget that.
"We'll see. Take me down then. We're wrestling? I thought we were fighting."
An active firefighter in Ohio, Miocic said he has continued to work part-time shifts in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. He said he has been able to train relatively regularly, however, between his martial arts gym and his home basement. He is the only fighter in UFC history to defend the heavyweight title three consecutive times. He lost to Cormier in their first encounter via first-round TKO in 2018, before coming back and evening the score the following year.