Cleveland-based mixed martial artist Stipe Miocic spent his entire career working to get to the top of the heavyweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and he likes the view so much so that he plans on staying there for a long time.
UFC heavyweight champion for almost a year to the day, Miocic will put the title on the line against Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 211 at American Airlines Center in Dallas tonight, and does so focused on making sure his hand is raised at the end of the bout.
“I’m going to go out there and do my job,” Miocic said after his open workout earlier this week. “I worked way too hard to get that belt. I’m not giving it up.”
Normally, Miocic is a fun-loving prankster always willing to draw a laugh out of someone, but when he steps inside The Octagon, there is a completely different type of person that comes out, one that is capable of knocking out the best fighters in the world.
“You’re locked in there with another man in The Octagon,” Miocic said. “He’s trying to beat you while you’re trying to kill him, so it’s flight or fight.”
Less than six months after suffering a unanimous decision loss to dos Santos in December of 2014, Miocic travelled halfway around the world to take on New Zealand’s Mark Hunt at the top of the card of UFC Fight Night: Miocic vs. Hunt in Adelaide, Australia, but it was that long journey which set in motion his rise to the top of the heavyweight division.
Although it took until the fifth round to earn the TKO win, Miocic was up to the challenge of taking down the hard-jawed Hunt. Miocic landed a UFC single-fight record 361 strikes, of which 113 were considered “significant” by FightMetric.
Additionally, Miocic was successful with six of his eight takedown attempts and held control of the bout for 16:09.
Then, Miocic needed just 11 punches and 54 seconds to defeat former UFC champion Andre Arlovski in January of 2016, a convincing win that led to a championship match against Fabricio Werdum in Curitiba, Brazil last May.
The former champion was chasing Miocic around the outer rim of The Octagon, and left his chin exposed. Despite backing away from Werdum’s pursuit, Miocic threw a powerful right hand that floored the champion.
Miocic added three shots to the downed Werdum before referee Dan Miragliotta called a stop to the bout at the 2:14 mark of the first round.
Early in the first round of his title defense, Miocic was pursuing Alistair Overeem when he got caught with a punch to the jaw and fell backwards. Overeem immediately jumped at the opportunity and put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.
Then, later in the bout, Overeem attempted to throw a right leg kick when Miocic checked it and sent the challenger to the mat. After the takedown, Overeem pulled guard, but Miocic was not to be denied. Miocic landed a pair of right-handed hammer fists before throwing a left-right combination to Overeem’s face.
Following another left hand, Miocic landed four straight rights to Overeem’s jaw, knocking out the challenger and forcing the referee’s stoppage with just 33 seconds left in the first round.
“I don’t want to go through another slugfest,” Miocic said. “I want to do my fight and the fight that I want to win. It’s not going five rounds. I can tell you that right now, and I’m not the one that’s losing. I’m walking out with the belt wrapped around my waist. I don’t really care what it takes. It’s going to happen.”
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