CLEVELAND — Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has been pining for a title rematch since dropping the belt to Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 226 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last July, and to this point, those requests have not been granted.
Heavyweight contenders Francis Ngannou and Cain Velasquez, who will fight in the main event of a UFC Fight Night event in Phoenix Sunday, spoke on the idea of Miocic getting his rematch with Cormier, and they had differing opinions on the matter.
“I think Stipe has a right to be upset,” Ngannou said on the Ariel Helwani MMA Show earlier this week. “I think he deserves a rematch. He’s been a UFC champion four times. Then, he just lost the belt, so he deserves a rematch. I mean, it’s well deserved.”
Velasquez addressed the matter during the media lunch event ahead of this weekend’s fight card, and did not seem so willing to watch his American Kickboxing Academy teammate, Cormier, step back in the cage with Miocic.
“When (Cormier) had the opportunity to fight him, I didn’t see anywhere where Daniel would lose that fight,” Velasquez said, according to BJPenn.com. “I was pretty confident in that.
“Just because you were the reigning, defending heavyweight champion doesn’t mean you get a title shot right away.”
Ngannou has first-hand knowledge of Miocic’s skills in the cage, as he lost a unanimous decision to him in a heavyweight championship fight at UFC 220 last January.
In a Twitter rant last Tuesday, Cormier answered the question of “Why I’m not fighting Stipe Miocic again?”
“Reason 1: he’s being entitled, why have I fought since and he hasn’t. He lost the fight. Is he still the champ?” Cormier tweeted. “Reason 2: I’m hurt. Reason 3: How do I do it better? I beat him in a round last time.”
Earlier in the day, Cormier tweeted: “I don’t owe anyone s&*$!”
Cormier’s comments came just over a month after he left open the possibility of giving Miocic a rematch should a potential super-fight with former heavyweight king Brock Lesnar, the current WWE Universal Champion, not materialize.
“If it ain’t Brock, I want to fight Stipe Miocic and give him what’s rightfully his, a rematch for this title,” Cormier said in an appearance on “The MMA Hour” on December 31.
Miocic was swift and succinct with his response to Cormier’s rant.
Miocic felt he was winning for much of the first round against Cormier in his fourth defense of the heavyweight championship, despite taking a thumb to the left eye on an attempted shove from the challenger early in the bout.
However, out of a clinch, Cormier faked an uppercut, came over the top with a right-handed strike and floored the defending champion. With Miocic on his back, Cormier pounced and landed multiple strikes before the referee called a stop to the contest.
Miocic is no stranger to getting a rematch against a competitor who has gotten the better of him.
Nearly three years after suffering a decision loss to Junior dos Santos in Phoenix in December of 2014, Miocic successfully defended the UFC heavyweight championship against the heavy-handed, hard-kicking Brazilian with a first-round knockout at UFC 211 in Dallas, Texas in May of 2017.
The record-holder for the most consecutive successful defenses of the UFC heavyweight championship, Miocic is 18-3-0 in his professional career, including a 12-3 mark since joining the preeminent organization in mixed martial arts.
“I’m the better fighter,” Miocic told WKYC.com in an exclusive interview at Strong Style MMA Gym in Independence in December. “Hands down, I’m the better fighter.”