UFC president Dana White has mentioned the winner of Saturday’s important occasion — Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier — would be the biggest heavyweight ever. And the 2 fighters concerned with UFC 252, not surprisingly, agree with the promoter.
No one would argue that both fighter is not nice. Miocic’s three heavyweight title defenses are essentially the most in UFC historical past, and Cormier is one in all solely two UFC fighters to carry titles in several weight lessons concurrently. And that simply touches on their accolades.
Nice? Sure. However biggest?
A part of the issue in assessing that title is separating the best in UFC historical past from the best in MMA historical past. The UFC is comparatively younger, relationship to the early 1990s, however it has achieved a worldwide recognition that no different MMA promotion got here near reaching.
“I nonetheless assume Satisfaction had one of the best heavyweight division of all fight sports activities to this point,” mentioned Josh Barnett, who was the UFC’s heavyweight champ in 2002. “The best way I see it, the UFC is a approach for folks on a a lot greater scale to see these things. However simply because extra folks have seen you combat doesn’t suggest that you’re a higher fighter.”
Any dialog concerning the biggest heavyweight in historical past contains Fedor Emelianenko, who by no means fought within the UFC. His finest days have been with Satisfaction, and he owns victories over six former champions from the UFC, Satisfaction and Strikeforce.
“Simply because you do not know Fedor does not negate his earlier accomplishments,” Barnett mentioned. “To say definitively [Saturday’s winner is the best], that is simply hyperbole based mostly on what have you ever finished for me currently, and folks can solely price what they will see, however they’re overestimating their capability to make a declare based mostly on the restricted data they’ve.”
However did Emelianenko compromise his legacy as the best ever by popping out of retirement in 2015 and persevering with to combat previous his prime?
“I’ve a mushy spot for him,” mentioned former UFC heavyweight champ Mark Coleman, a Corridor of Famer. “In my e-book, he is one of many biggest of all time. If he would have stayed retired, then he is in everybody’s dialog.”
ESPN contacted 10 former UFC heavyweight champs — and the present one — to evaluate the importance of Saturday’s combat, and requested whether or not it would produce that legendary title of “Biggest heavyweight in MMA historical past.”
Tim Sylvia (UFC heavyweight champion from Feb. 28, 2003, to Oct. 15, 2003, and April 15, 2006, to March 3, 2007)
If Stipe wins, sure. If DC wins, no.
If Cormier wins, he beat Stipe twice and Derrick Lewis, which was a joke combat for the heavyweight title. They gave it to him simply so he may get a protection in. Put DC in opposition to all the blokes Stipe has overwhelmed, after which if he beats all these guys, then he is one of the best ever.
But when he beats Stipe twice? No.
Stipe has to win this one to be one of the best of all time. He actually does. But when he does not, then it is most likely Fedor.
Fedor fought all of the No. 1 guys of his period. All the blokes he fought and beat have been within the UFC or have been higher than the UFC heavyweights. He was preventing monsters and killers in Japan.
This one is a large one for Stipe’s legacy. It will solidify him, if he wins, as one of the best heavyweight ever.
Mark Coleman (UFC heavyweight champion from Feb. 7, 1997, to July 27, 1997; Corridor of Fame Class of 2008)
To me, it is the most important combat in UFC historical past — positively by far the most important combat in UFC heavyweight historical past.
The winner of that combat would be the finest heavyweight of all time — for the second. It relies upon what he does after that, although. It is rather a lot simpler to change into the champ than to remain the champ.
Whoever wins this combat, in the event that they retire, they will be talked about endlessly as the best of all time. Should you hold going, you threat your legacy.
Cain Velasquez (UFC heavyweight champion from Oct. 23, 2010, to Nov. 12, 2011, and Dec. 29, 2012, to June 13, 2015)
I might say the winner of DC vs. Stipe is one of the best heavyweight fighter of all time. Simply due to the blokes they beat.
I do know that DC, if he wins right here, and doing what he did in that first combat [knocking out Miocic in the first round], it simply reveals the place he’s.
They’ve each overwhelmed each man on the market. They’ve legitimized their names in that class.
I did what I did within the time that I had. Stipe and DC have put within the work, man. All that stuff is well-deserved.
DC will win and he’ll be the best UFC heavyweight of all time.
Junior dos Santos (UFC heavyweight champion from Nov. 12, 2011, to Dec. 29, 2012)
With out query, the winner of this combat will go away a mark as the most effective in historical past. For my part, the winner can be solely behind Fedor Emelianenko, who was the historic better of our sport within the heavyweight division. However with out query, the winner of this combat will safe a spotlight spot in heavyweight historical past.
Fabricio Werdum (UFC heavyweight champion from to June 13, 2015 to Could 14, 2016)
No. I imagine Stipe Miocic is an excellent fighter, 100 %. He is the champion now. However all time? No. All time, for me, in my thoughts, is Fedor.
Ricco Rodriguez (UFC heavyweight champion from Sept. 27, 2002, to Feb. 28, 2003)
I might positively put DC up there. However I would additionally must go along with Randy Couture. He was the primary of his time ever to go from heavyweight to mild heavyweight, then again as much as heavyweight. You take a look at the numbers, Randy Couture is unquestionably there — or at the very least proper there with DC.
Each heavyweight does not perceive that the belt comes with a curse. And the curse is that each time it is time to defend your title underneath all of the lights, glamour and press and PR, you alter your ardour for glory. Virtually like a Rocky story. It occurs to everyone.
I imagine the winner of this combat is unquestionably going to dictate their legacy. For me, DC has all of the instruments to do it.
I believe that is the place Miocic is unquestionably going to soak up the chance — you lock in his legacy for the remainder of his life, which is vital.
If you are going to go by statistics, the numbers level to Miocic. He has defended the title greater than anybody else. To me, he is one of the best proper now. Now, do I believe what DC did at 205 and coming as much as heavyweight is nice? Sure. However he additionally by no means beat Jon Jones.
So, if you concentrate on it, Randy Couture is one of the best, as a result of he beat everyone that was the highest contender on the time. It’s important to perceive the time and period we have been preventing in, too. Randy helped raise the game.
Andrei Arlovski (UFC heavyweight champion from Aug. 12, 2005, to April 15, 2006)
No. It is simply one other combat for the heavyweight title.
Josh Barnett (UFC heavyweight champion from March 22, 2002 to July 26, 2002)
Neither of those fighters could make that declare, no matter who wins.
Cormier has 24 fights, his ending ratio is 67%, and it isn’t quite a lot of abilities even being showcased, and that goes for each of those guys. Cormier’s solely submitted just a few folks, and it is at all times been a rear-naked choke, a sleeper maintain, and that is as a result of it has been punching and somebody turned over.
Stipe has a 79% ending ratio, which is fairly rattling spectacular, not unhealthy in any respect, in reality — and it is all KOs or TKOs, which can be very spectacular. Stipe has 22 fights, which actually is not all that many for a profession. However he is nonetheless preventing.
Once I take a look at the majority of their careers total, and if I watch how they’re preventing, how they’re successful and the way they’ve misplaced, and I examine that to say Fedor, at 46 fights and a 77% ending ratio, and of these finishes, 15 are knockouts and 15 are submissions, he is exhibiting a extra balanced, well-rounded sport.
Then you might have Alistair Overeem, who’s nonetheless a present competitor, and he is obtained an 89% ending ratio in 64 fights, to not point out being a K1 Grand Prix champion and Strikeforce champion.
Even to go additional again, you might have Dan Severn, who had 120 matches, 101-19, with a 76% ending ratio.
Simply since you solely know Alistair from the UFC does not negate what he did forward of time. Simply because you do not know Fedor does not negate his earlier accomplishments. Simply because you do not know who Dan Severn is does not make your argument extra legitimate.
And you have Mirko Cro Cop, who had a really lackluster, in context to him, UFC run, he nonetheless had 49 fights and a 90% ending ratio.
Hell, I’ve had 43 fights with an 81% ending ratio, submitting and knocking folks out, and I am nonetheless preventing, so I would wish to put my title in that equation if potential.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC interim heavyweight champion from Feb. 2, 2008, to Dec. 27, 2008)
I imagine the winner of this combat may be thought-about essentially the most strong heavyweight within the UFC, for positive.
I believe Miocic has extra stability as a result of he was dominant for extra years. Cormier is a legend of this sport, as a result of he had an amazing profession at heavyweight, went to mild heavyweight, turned the champion, got here again to heavyweight and gained the title there, too.
I already think about each as heavyweight legends however, with none doubt, the winner goes to make historical past.
Stipe Miocic (UFC heavyweight champion from Could 14, 2016 to July 7, 2018 and Aug. 17, 2019 to current)
I positively assume so. I believe with all of our accolades, as they’d say, I might assume so. Perhaps I am already one of the best heavyweight ever and I am defending two issues without delay — the belt and that. I am not shedding. I am strolling round with that belt nonetheless round my waist and my hand-held up.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 21, 2018
Daniel Cormier (UFC heavyweight champion from July 7, 2018 to Aug. 17, 2019)
I imagine this combat is for who’s one of the best heavyweight fighter of all time. However I do imagine that any time they make a brief listing of men that they think about the best fighter of all time, I’ve to be within the dialog. That is all you possibly can actually hope for — that your accomplishments stand tall subsequent to anyone.
It is all on the road. If Stipe wins, he is the best heavyweight fighter of all time. If I win, I am the best heavyweight fighter of all time.
ESPN Brazil contributed to this story.