Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic walked out of The Octagon after UFC 211: Miocic vs. Dos Santos 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas with the UFC Heavyweight Championship, but in knocking out Junior dos Santos in the first round, he exited with something nearly as important: a burgeoning amount of respect in the MMA world.
In post-fight press conferences, both dos Santos and UFC President Dana White praised Miocic for his fifth straight knockout victory.
“He’s doing great,” dos Santos said. “It was on him. He did very well. I’m sad of course. I would’ve liked to win this. I would like to become the champion again, but if I’m not the champion, I’m glad this guy is the champion. He’s a really nice guy. He deserves that, and it was his night.”
PHOTOS: Stipe Miocic retains UFC Heavyweight Championship with KO of Junior dos Santos
White added, “He’s looking like the man. Cleveland’s killing it right now. He’s not the same fighter, obviously, that fought him the first time. Super athletic. He stays in the pocket now and punches with big guys. Lightning fast. He’s a complete fighter, and a really good athlete.”
Miocic avenged one of only two losses on his professional record with the knockout of dos Santos at the 2:24 mark of the very first round in the main event of UFC 211.
Miocic finished off the victory when he backed up dos Santos against the cage and floored him with a right hand to the head.
After dos Santos fell to the canvas, Miocic pounced on the opportunity to finish the fight and fired off more than a dozen left-handed punches through his opponent's defense that went unanswered, which forced referee Herb Dean to call a stop to the bout.
“The guy’s come into his own,” White said. “He’s an unbelievable fighter. If you look at his last war that he had and he loses by a close decision, and then, he’s come out and knocked out everybody since then, including the last guy he lost to in the five-round war, he’s pretty badass.”
Dos Santos added, “This guy, he didn’t change anything. Actually, he got better, and he’s still improving, so the truth is this, Miocic is the champion right now.”
Including the knockout of dos Santos, Miocic has won five straight bouts. All five of those victories have come by knockout or TKO, and the last four were achieved in the first round of competition. Now, Miocic is 17-2 in his professional career, and 11-2 in his 13 bouts under the UFC banner.
Additionally, Miocic has gotten four straight Performance or Fight of the Night bonuses.
“He’s on the way,” dos Santos of Miocic being mentioned as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. “He’s on the way to being because he’s doing actually great, and I admire him. If I’m not the champion, I’m happy he’s the champion. He’s a nice guy, and he represents very well the sporting spirit.
“What is it going to take for someone to beat him? It’s going to take a lot. This guy is the real deal, and he’s doing really well. He has really heavy hands, so the way I see it, he’s going to continue to grow in this division and this whole scenario that the UFC’s living now and become one of the greatest.”