CLEVELAND -- Cleveland-based mixed martial artist Stipe Miocic has had quite a year in 2016.
Miocic won the UFC heavyweight championship in May, got married in June and was back in camp in mid-summer preparing to defend his title in front of the Cleveland fans at UFC 203, which he did successfully by knocking out Alistair Overeem in the first round at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night.
“It’s been a whirlwind, a good whirlwind, but listen, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Miocic said. “The city deserves it. We have such a great city, and I’m just proud that they have something to be proud of, take pride in the fact that we have these championships to celebrate.
“We’re the City of Champions now, and it still isn’t done yet. We bought a house. We’re moving soon, so it hasn’t stopped yet. Listen, it’s not going to stop. It’s going to roll right into 2017. We’re going to keep it going.”
Miocic had a vision for what 2016 would be, and when the calendar flipped on January 1st, he set in motion events that have led to a successful sequence of events, both personally and professionally.
After knocking out former UFC heavyweight champion Andre Arlovski on January 2nd, Miocic demanded and was granted his title shot against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil.
Despite fighting in a soccer stadium full of 45,000 Brazilians chanting “You’re going to die,” in Portuguese, Miocic made good on the opportunity by knocking out Werdum in the first round. Miocic’s punch sparked a championship run in Cleveland, as the Lake Erie Monsters swept their way to the Calder Cup and the Cavaliers erased a 3-1 deficit against the defending champion Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals for the very first time.
Following his championship victory, Miocic got married. However, Miocic and his wife were unable to take a honeymoon, as he had to start training for his title defense against Overeem, a world-class kickboxer on a four-fight winning streak.
“My coaches, my teammates, my wife, my family, my friends, they’re all great people,” Miocic said. “They all stick by me.”
Although Miocic is on quite the roll in 2016, he is not one to rest on his laurels and slow down.
In fact, the firefighter/paramedic for the cities of Valley View and Oakwood Village will be on shift later this week, and Miocic will continue serving his community and training for his next title defense for the foreseeable future.
“Just picking my schedule, trading with people,” Miocic said of managing his fight schedule and firefighting duties. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love what I do. I worked so hard to become a fireman and paramedic that I’m not going to give it up.
“Listen, I love what I do, and I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to keep it. Plus, it’s just a different 180 from fighting. The guys at the station are having fun. It’s like a playground for guys.”