Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier at UFC 241 (Photo/Getty Images)
Former amateur wrestling stars went two-for-two at UFC 241 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Saturday night, with a pair of former Olympians coming out on the losing end. In the main event featuring two ex-wrestlers, Cleveland State mat alum Stipe Miocic earned the UFC heavyweight title with a fourth-round TKO of 2008 Olympian Daniel Cormier ... while two-time Olympian Yoel Romero lost on a decision to Paulo Costa, and three-time NCAA Division II All-American Derek Brunson came out on top in a unanimous decision over Ian Heinisch.
Miocic reclaims UFC heavyweight title belt from Cormier
Cleveland area native Stipe Miocic reclaimed the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight (265-pound) title with a technical knockout of Daniel Cormier -- an NCAA finalist for Oklahoma State -- at 4:09 of the fourth round of the bout slated for five rounds.
Here's how CBS Sports opened its write-up of the top-of-the-card title bout:
Stipe Miocic was looking for revenge against heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier, and he got just that.
"It was anything but easy in the main event of UFC 241, but thanks to one of the great adjustments in UFC championship fight history, Miocic brought the belt back home by stopping Cormier in the fourth round."
"'DC was in control for a majority of the fight," according to Sherdog.com. "He executed a slam takedown in the first round, advanced to half guard and poured on the punishment with ground-and-pound. The 40-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana, native spent the second, third and parts of the fourth rounds flexing his hand speed with crippling jabs and powerful right hands. Midway through the fourth, Miocic tweaked his approach and focused on the champion's midsection with a series of left hooks, the last of which set up a right cross that began Cormier's downward spiral. Miocic pushed him to the fence and swarmed him with punches until referee Herb Dean intervened."
After the bout, Miocic talked about his decision to start punching at Cormier's body. "I knew I was hurting him," Miocic said. "Just keep working, keep working. He was going to leave something open."
Meanwhile, Cormier -- who is now head wrestling coach at Gilroy High School in California -- addressed his lack of wrestling during the bout, having scored just one takedown... and that was in the first round.
"That [wrestling] was the strategy," Cormier said at Saturday's post-fight press conference. "That's probably the biggest letdown is how I let my coaches down. They were begging me to wrestle.
"That's probably the most disappointing thing is that I didn't do what I was trained to do. I feel like I let my coaches down."
The former Cowboy wrestler also mentioned the possibility of saying goodbye to his MMA career.
"You don't make decisions based on emotions, but this is a tough pill to swallow," Cormier said. "At 40 years old, you know, with so many other opportunities, I need to speak to my wife, and we need to make an educated decision on what we're going to do.
"Losing any type of fight for me is terrible, but getting stopped is just insane. That's twice I've been stopped. That's not good. I'm smart enough to understand that."
With the win, Miocic regains the UFC big-man belt (which he had lost to Cormier at UFC 226 in July 2018), and improves to 19-3 overall, and 13-3 in UFC competition ... while Cormier drops to 22-3 in a career going back a decade.
Costa earns win over Romero in 'absolutely wild brawl'
"The middleweight (185-pound) showdown between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa had a sense of 'blink and you'll miss it' ahead of UFC 241," is how CBS Sports opened its recap of this bout it described as "an absolutely wild brawl." "The knockout may not have come, but it wasn't for lack of trying on the part of either man."
"In the end, Costa took a close (and controversial) decision in a fight that will enter into many Fight of the Year lists."
"Both men were credited with knockdowns in a back-and-forth first round that seemed to tilt Costa's way," according to Sherdog.com which described the fight as a "crackling middleweight barnburner."
"The undefeated Brazilian dropped Romero to all fours with a clean left hook and managed to weather a flying knee from the 2000 Olympic silver medalist. The middle stanza saw Costa attack the body with kicks and hooks from both hands, only to concede a takedown in the closing seconds.
"Perhaps sensing the need for a finish, Romero found another gear in Round 3, where he continued to absorb body blows without so much as a deep breath and responded with a savage right uppercut, straight lefts, heavy combinations and an inside trip takedown. His efforts fell short."
All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Costa, who is now 13-0 overall, and 5-0 in UFC ... while Romero drops to 13-4 in his MMA career, and 9-3 in UFC, having lost his last four bouts.
Brunson survives 'early scare' to defeat Heinisch
In a battle of top 10 middleweights, eighth-ranked Derek Brunson scored a unanimous decision over No. 10 ranked Ian Heinisch in the first match of the pay-per-view portion of the card at UFC 241.
"The UFC veteran of 16 fights survived a scary opening moment of the fight to edge out a decision over Heinisch ..." according to CBS. "It took Heinisch (13-2) less than 10 seconds to land a smacking kick to the side of Brunson's head. More impressive than the kick may have been the balance Heinisch displayed in avoiding Brunson's follow-up takedown attempt."
All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Brunson, who was a three-time NCAA Division II All-American wrestler for University of North Carolina-Pembroke.
With the win, Brunson improves to 20-7 overall and 10-6 in UFC ... while Heinisch suffered his first loss in nearly two years, dropping to 13-2 in his career and 3-1 in UFC.