CLEVELAND -- In the lead-up to UFC 203, heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem said he was the hungrier wolf and that champion Stipe Miocic “had a full belly” from celebrating his knockout win over Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 in May.
Although Overeem questions Miocic’s dedication and commitment to mixed martial arts, the Cleveland native is focused on defending his championship and celebrating the victory in front of his hometown fans at Quicken Loans Arena tonight.
“Everywhere I go, every time I do an appearance, I have a coach with me, a training partner with me,” Miocic said. “Nothing’s changed with my training. I’m training harder than I’ve ever been before, so I just wish it was Saturday already. I’m just ready to go. Nothing’s changed in my training. Actually, my training’s gotten harder, so I’m ready to go.”
Miocic definitely made a name for himself when he won the UFC heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout of the former champion, Werdum, in the main event of UFC 198 at the Arena Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, Brazil, on May 14.
Miocic finished the fight after delivering a right hand to Werdum’s jaw. 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 former titlist.
While his opponent is questioning commitment, Miocic believes he is in a better place now than when he claimed the UFC championship.
“I feel amazing,” Miocic said. “I’m going to walk in the most confident that I’m tougher than I’ve ever been. Marcus (Marinelli) and my coaches have me ready every fight. This summer was brutal. It was pretty hot.
“Some days, I thought I was going to pass out because it was like what, 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity. It was terrible, but I know I’m better than I was last fight and I keep getting better every day, so listen, come Saturday, I can’t wait to show you how much better I’ve gotten.”
Miocic will fight in Cleveland for the first time in more than five years, and although he appreciates the support of the hometown fans, he will enter The Octagon with a singular goal of walking out the same way he came in, as UFC heavyweight champion.
“I’m here for business,” Miocic said. “Walking to The Octagon, that’s all I’m going to think about, me and Alistair Overeem. It’s all I care about. Nobody else is going to get into The Octagon with us. Listen, I’m going to come out the winner, and that’s the way it’s going to be.
“I’m going to go out there and do my job. I’ve been training super hard. I’ve trained too hard to give it up. I don’t want to give anything up. I’ve worked too hard to get this title. I’m here to win. I’m going to win the fight and still be the champ.
“Well, we’ll find out Saturday if I’ve been training or not when he’s sleeping. I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to be doing, my obligations and stuff, but I’ve been training all the time. I’m going to win. We’re going to find out when I get my hand raised how I did it.”