CLEVELAND -- Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic had an entire city in his corner when he walked out to The Octagon to defend the heavyweight championship of the world against Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 in Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.
A proud Cleveland native, Miocic made sure the hometown fans left The Q happy when he successfully defended his championship for the first time with a knockout of Overeem with 33 seconds remaining in the very first round.
“It’s amazing,” Miocic told WKYC.com Tuesday morning. “Words can’t describe it, but it was amazing defending it here in Cleveland. Words can’t describe how amazing the fans in the arena were. It was so loud, it was unbelievable.”
Early in the first round, Miocic was pursuing Overeem when he got caught with a punch to the jaw and fell backwards. Overeem immediately jumped at the opportunity to put Miocic into a guillotine choke, but the champion kept his feet on the mat and circled his way out of the submission.
“It was my training,” Miocic said. “My coaches, they put me through so much, and when I get in a situation like that, I’m always okay. I knew where I was at. At first, I wasn’t. It wasn’t a great feeling, but in the guillotine choke, I knew what was going on, grabbed his hands, made sure it was loosened up, scooted out to the right, got out and set the tone after that.”
After breaking the submission, Miocic went on a tear and landed several flurries of punches. Cognizant of Miocic’s punching power, Overeem backed away from contact and attempted to use his world-class kickboxing skills to gain an advantage.
However, as Overeem attempted to throw a right leg kick, Miocic checked it and sent the challenger to the mat. After the takedown, Overeem pulled guard, but Miocic landed a pair of right-handed hammer fists before throwing a left-right combination to the challenger’s face.
Following another left hand, Miocic landed four straight rights to Overeem’s jaw, knocking out the challenger.
“When I got him down, I knew,” Miocic said. “I grabbed his hands and I was throwing punches. I was like, ‘Alright! He’s not getting up.’ I knew it and given the opportunity, I saw his chin was wide open and hit it three or four times and he was out.”
In all, Miocic (16-2) landed 34 of his 60 strikes on his way to the Fight of the Night bonus, his third straight performance bonus. Overeem landed just nine of his 17 strikes.
Winner of four straight fights, Miocic was the just the second champion across any division in the UFC to successfully defend a championship in 2016. Of the previous six times a champion entered The Octagon prior to Miocic’s defense, only bantamweight titlist Dominick Cruz walked out with the belt.
“I have to go back to my coaches again,” Miocic said. “I have great training sessions. My training partners, we kill ourselves when we train to be ready for any situation and be ready for anything that comes in, and that’s what we do.”