UFC 252 best bets: Back Cormier to win belt in retirement fight
Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

UFC 252 takes place Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It features a trilogy fight between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.

Here are two of the best bets for the pay-per-view event.

Daniel Cormier (-120) vs. Stipe Miocic

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Cormier's wrestling should give him the edge against Miocic in the rubber match - and at nearly a pick 'em, it's tough to pass on the former two-division titleholder.

The two-time U.S. Olympian is one of the best wrestlers to cross over to MMA. He secured a takedown against Miocic two minutes into their August 2019 rematch - Cormier's second heavyweight title defense - and his opponent didn't get up for the remainder of the round.

However, Cormier seemed to abandon his game plan after the opening frame, choosing to strike with Miocic instead. That decision might've cost him the fight, as Miocic came back to finish "DC" in the fourth round after landing several body shots.

This time, Cormier will utilize the skill set that vaulted him to the top of the sport. If he sticks to his wrestling, the veteran could dominate the fight. Miocic is no slouch on the ground, as he's beaten multiple opponents with his wrestling. But he gave up that takedown to Cormier pretty easily, and it wouldn't be surprising if the 41-year-old consistently puts the champion on his back. The UFC Apex uses the smaller, 25-foot wide cage, which should give Cormier an advantage and make it easier for him to close the distance on Miocic.

Cormier will be competitive in the stand-up department, so don't be overly worried if he needs to take Miocic down to win the fight, as that's simply his easiest path to victory. He had his way with Miocic standing up in the first two rounds of the rematch.

"DC" is also the quicker puncher, and he moves better than Miocic. He slowed as the rematch progressed, but Cormier has claimed he wasn't in great shape eight months removed from back surgery. If that's the case, Cormier will go five rounds more easily now if necessary, and he may not leave himself open for body shots like last time.

Miocic is a talented fighter who surely doesn't want to wrestle for 25 minutes, so he should make this an entertaining bout. But there are more ways for Cormier to win, and if he takes a smarter approach than in the rematch as I expect he will, this is absolutely his fight to lose.

Junior dos Santos (+110) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

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Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is scheduled to meet Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a pivotal bout on the main card. The Brazilian is absolutely a live 'dog you should consider in this spot, even after his two-fight skid.

Dos Santos' recent opponents during those losses were Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes, the two highest-ranked heavyweights below Miocic and Cormier. There's no shame in those defeats, and the losses don't necessarily indicate Dos Santos is shot.

He may be past his prime as a 36-year-old. And yes, the damage Dos Santos has taken throughout his career is concerning because Rozenstruik hits hard, and the former champ's chin doesn't seem to be the same.

But technically, Dos Santos is easily the better fighter. And if he can avoid Rozenstruik's heaviest shots, he'll do more than OK in this matchup.

When Dos Santos was in his prime, he was considered one of the promotion's better boxers, and he still holds his own in that regard. He'll stay busier against Rozenstruik while connecting on a solid amount of punches, as Dos Santos is the sharper striker of the two.

Rozenstruik - who's coming off a quick knockout loss to Ngannou - isn't much of a ground fighter, so I'm pretty confident both fighters will stay on their feet. Dos Santos should prevail as the smarter of the two en route to a decision or late TKO win.

Here are the full odds for UFC 252 on Aug. 15:

Main card

Daniel Cormier (-120) vs. Stipe Miocic (-110)
Sean O'Malley (-300) vs. Marlon Vera (+240)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-140) vs. Junior dos Santos (+110)
Merab Dvalishvili (-230) vs. John Dodson (+185)
Herbert Burns (-280) vs. Daniel Pineda (+230)

Preliminary card

Vinc Pichel (-120) vs. Jim Miller (-110)
Virna Jandiroba (-310) vs. Felice Herrig (+245)
TJ Brown (-155) vs. Danny Chavez (+125)
Livinha Souza (-155) vs. Ashley Yoder (+125)

Early preliminary card

Parker Porter (-130) vs. Chris Daukaus (+100)
Kai Kamaka (-210) vs. Tony Kelley (+170)

UFC 252 best bets: Back Cormier to win belt in retirement fight
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