The first time Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos battled inside The Octagon in December of 2014, the bout went to the judges’ scorecards, but in the mind of the heavyweight champion of the world, there was no way this second contest was going the distance.
Miocic avenged one of only two losses on his professional record with a knockout of dos Santos at the 2:24 mark of the first round in the main event of UFC 211: Miocic vs. Dos Santos 2 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas Saturday night.
“It’s amazing,” Miocic said in an exclusive phone interview with WKYC.com after his second title defense. “I’m just happy that I was able to do it. He’s an amazing fighter. He’s an amazing man. He’s a great competitor. We had a great fight last time. I’m just happy to get out of there with my face still intact.”
PHOTOS: Stipe Miocic retains UFC Heavyweight Championship with KO of Junior dos Santos
Although dos Santos landed 12 strikes early in the round, including leg kicks that caused instant swelling in Miocic’s left shin, the champion withstood the damage and landed 26 of his 56 strikes (46 percent). All 26 of his strikes were considered significant, according to FightMetric.
Miocic finished off his fifth straight knockout victory by backing up dos Santos against the cage and flooring him with a right hand to the head.
After dos Santos fell to the canvas, Miocic swarmed the former champion and threw more than a dozen left-handed punches through the guard, and when those strikes went unanswered, referee Herb Dean stepped in to call a stop to the bout.
“I hit him a few times, and I could tell that he didn’t like it a lot,” Miocic said. “I caught him with a good right and he fell. I was like, ‘Yep, that’s all she wrote.’”
A perfectionist in and out of the cage, Miocic earned his measure of redemption from the unanimous decision loss in a five-round slugfest against dos Santos at UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos vs. Miocic in Phoenix, Arizona two-and-a-half years ago.
Ironically enough, Miocic believes it is that last loss which put him on a path to run off five straight knockout victories. Including the redemption win over dos Santos, Miocic has finished off 14 opponents, all by knockout or TKO.
“I got better from that fight,” Miocic said. “That fight made me the fighter I am today. I’m lucky. I want to thank Junior because he got me better because of that fight. I belong here, and I know I belong here.”
With the win over dos Santos, Miocic tied the UFC record by successfully defending the heavyweight championship for a second consecutive time. He improved to 17-2 in his professional career, and 11-2 in his 13 bouts under the UFC banner.
“Every fight’s always the next fight,” Miocic said. “The next fight is all I care about. I’m not really worried about the record. I’m going to keep winning like do, and I love what I do.”