UFC champion Stipe Miocic shows no signs of slowing down

CLEVELAND -- UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is not one to just sit around and rest on his laurels.

Rather than falling into the “banquet circuit” trap that many champions and award winners experience, Miocic quickly got down to the business of training for his first UFC title defense, which will be against Alistair Overeem in the main event of UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Saturday night.

“Camp’s been fantastic with Stipe,” said Bob Kaleal, Miocic’s performance coach. “He’s responded like he always does. He comes in with the mindset, whether he’s tired or not, ‘I need to get this done. This is what’s going to make me continue to be the champion and it’s going to continue to allow me to excel’ at the level he’s excelled at.”

Miocic won the UFC championship after delivering a right hand to the jaw of Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC 198 at the Arena Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, Brazil, on May 14. 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.

Miocic added three shots to the downed Werdum before referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in-between the fighters to end the bout at 2:14 of the first round.

Although Miocic has reached the pinnacle of combat sports championships, Kaleal feels he is “hungrier” now than before his victory over Werdum.

“He’s on,” Kaleal said. “He trains regardless. That does not get in the way. Stipe’s mindset has never changed.

“His mindset with the way his schedule is and the craziness of the media and all the special events people want him to go to do, after he won this belt, you could imagine the media tour and the stuff that people wanted him to do.”

Miocic will square off against Overeem in the UFC’s debut event in Cleveland.

The bout was announced in the middle of a Cavaliers playoff game in May, and Miocic travelled to Las Vegas to attend and take part in events surrounding UFC 200 back in July. Even though Miocic travelled across the country for UFC 200, he continued to show a commitment to his craft.

“He took me to Las Vegas with him,” Kaleal said. “We trained two times a day. He came in at 4:30 in the morning the day we left just to train, and then, when we got there, we went outside and did a 30-minute run in 105-degree heat.

“His mindset is greater now in maintaining this belt and holding this belt and letting people realize that as long as he’s this champion, you’re going to have someone to reckon with, day-in and day-out. He’s coming mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically, nutritionally ready to roll.”

And when the time comes for Miocic to step into The Octagon and take on Overeem, Kaleal has every reason to believe the champion will successfully defend his title.

“Stipe’s coming,” Kaleal said. “He’s locked in. When he walks out to that ring, he could be anywhere in this world, and he’s proven that with people screaming at him, going crazy, it does not matter. This time, the same type of cheers that he’s going to hear that are normally boos, he’s locked in. And when I say locked in, he’s walking down that aisle as fast as he can, he’s getting in that cage and he’s going to throw down.”

This is Part Four of our six-story series leading up to Miocic's UFC heavyweight championship bout against Overeem in Cleveland Saturday night.


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