CLEVELAND -- In the lead-up to the heavyweight championship bout at UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Saturday night, challenger Alistair Overeem questioned Stipe Miocic’s commitment to the sport and stated that the champion was celebrating a little bit too hard.
However, Miocic quickly silenced the doubters when he recovered from an early punch to the jaw and submission attempt and earned the knockout win against Overeem, thus becoming just the second UFC fighter to successfully make a title defense in 2016.
“I don’t know how I’ve changed,” Miocic said in the post-fight press conference. “I don’t know. Whatever he wants to think. Listen, he doesn’t know how hard I’m training.
“This summer was probably the hottest summer I’ve ever been in Cleveland. The humidity and the heat, it was like 90 degrees every day for probably a month-and-a-half straight, and I trained. I did five, six rounds in a row, five-minute rounds nonstop because I knew what the end result was going to be. He can say that I was partying, but when I was partying, guess what? I was also training. I can have a few cocktails. I’m a big boy.”
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.
Although Miocic finished the fight in quick fashion, he was stunned early in the bout.
Miocic was pursuing Overeem when he got caught with a punch to the jaw and fell backwards. Overeem immediately jumped at the chance to put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.
“He hit a lot harder than I thought,” Miocic said. “He put me on my ass, but I was okay. He put me down. For a split second, I was like, ‘Whoa,’ but I got out of that fine and took over. I needed that actually.”
Following the fight, Overeem stated his belief that Miocic tapped out while in the guillotine. However, multiple replays showed that Miocic did not tap, and rather, just fought his way through the submission attempt and controlled the remainder of the bout.
“I don’t remember tapping out,” Miocic said. “I just remember punching him in the face repeatedly until he was unconscious.
“I don’t know how I tapped out when I had two hands on his hands. He’s also not feeling too good right now. Honestly, it sucked. Listen, that feels terrible. He could really hurt me. He threw a lot harder than I thought. He kicked a lot harder than I thought.
“That was my own fault, but I knew everything was coming. Listen, I trained for these situations. He put me on my ass. I felt fine. He put me in a front headlock. I just kept scooting to my right and he didn’t like it. He gave me the opportunity to grab his leg and he fell to the ground. When I got on top of him, yeah, game over.”