In case you’re rating the best blended martial artists of all time by way of charisma, Stipe Miocic just isn’t in your, oh, high thousand or so. In case your standards for star energy consists of prefight bluster and even in-cage razzle-dazzle, this UFC champion doesn’t shine so brightly.
However in the event you’re searching for the best heavyweight fighter within the sport’s historical past, you may discover him in a firehouse in suburban Cleveland.
Effectively, possibly give Miocic a number of days earlier than he is again house and on the job. He spent Saturday evening working in Las Vegas, securing his preeminent standing among the many largest of the large guys with a unanimous resolution victory over Daniel Cormier in the primary occasion of UFC 252. It wasn’t simple. Cormier, competing in what he stated each beforehand and afterward can be the ultimate combat of his profession, gave the champ all the things he had. However Miocic did what an all-time nice does. He bought higher because the combat progressed.
Miocic dropped Cormier within the closing seconds of the second spherical, sat on high of him towards the cage and whaled away till the challenger was saved by the horn. So the champ went again to work within the subsequent spherical, patiently pursuing DC, connecting with punches and kicks, clinching him towards the cage, carrying him out. An eye fixed poke close to the top of Spherical three additional compromised Cormier, however DC saved coming, pushing Miocic proper to the top.
“DC’s a hell of a fighter,” Miocic stated. “I want him nothing however the very best.”
Miocic, a 37-year-old Ohioan who whilst a two-time world champion just isn’t an excessive amount of of an enormous shot to proceed serving his group as a part-time firefighter and EMT, now claims 4 profitable title defenses — twice as many as some other UFC heavyweight has ever managed. It was Miocic’s second victory over Cormier, who steps away from the Octagon as one of many high 5 heavyweights in MMA historical past.
No. 1 on the checklist is Stipe Miocic.
That proclamation won’t go over so properly in Stary Oskol, hometown of the Russian nice Fedor Emelianenko. The Miocic résumé, in spite of everything, reveals nothing as snazzy because the decade-long run throughout which “The Final Emperor” went 28 fights and not using a defeat. Emelianenko’s report is dotted with conquests over a number of the greats of the sport, and he has lengthy been the gold customary amongst heavyweights.
To old-school followers particularly, it’s sacrilege to raise anybody above Emelianenko. However Miocic has earned his spot on the high of the mountain. The consecutive victories over Cormier weren’t his solely victories over an all-time nice. Miocic turned champion in 2016 with a first-round KO of Fabricio Werdum, who six years earlier had put a halt to Emelianenko’s revered profitable streak with a shock-the-world submission. Werdum sewed up his personal place amongst historical past’s heavyweight elite by tapping out each Emelianenko and fellow A-list dominator Cain Velasquez. After which Miocic merely smoked Werdum.
A one-punch KO in that championship bout — crumbling Werdum in entrance of his countrymen in Curitiba, Brazil — set Miocic off on a run unprecedented amongst UFC heavyweight champs. Inside a 12 months, he had scored two extra first-round knockouts, clobbering former Strikeforce and Ok-1 kickboxing champion Alistair Overeem after which ex-UFC champ Junior dos Santos.
Chael Sonnen breaks down Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier and explains what the difference-maker was in Miocic’s unanimous resolution victory.
Subsequent got here a date contained in the Octagon with the scariest man on the planet. Francis Ngannou has 10 victories within the UFC, seven of them first-round knockouts. His previous 4 opponents have lasted 45, 26, 71 and 20 seconds, respectively. However again in January 2018, Miocic went 25 minutes with Ngannou and tamed these sledgehammer fists, incomes a dominant resolution victory with a efficiency during which the champ relied much less on his personal mighty punches and extra on a brainy technique and well-rounded talent set.
Since then, it has been all DC, on a regular basis, for Miocic. Their first combat, in July 2018, was over virtually earlier than it started, as Cormier landed a sneaky, quick proper hook out of a clinch to remove the title with a first-round knockout. A bit of over a 12 months later, Miocic turned the tables with a fourth-round TKO, adjusting his recreation plan midfight and utilizing a deadening succession of physique pictures to reestablish himself as champion.
That arrange the largest combat in MMA heavyweight historical past. Saturday’s bout was the tantalizing completion of a trilogy during which every fighter had already separated the opposite from consciousness. It was the ultimate combat within the completed profession of the 41-year-old Cormier, a former Olympian and two-division UFC champion. And it was the crowning achievement for Miocic as the best heavyweight ever.
That is certainly not a diminishment of the Emelianenko legacy. Like Miocic, he’s a humble man of remarkable achievements. Victories within the Pleasure Combating Championships over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic, Kevin Randleman and Mark Coleman, amongst many others, made the Russian worthy of all of the accolades heaped upon him when the sport was all his.
Emelianenko was simply 33 when Werdum stopped him. That is the prime of many combating careers, early prime for heavyweights. Miocic, however, turns 38 on Wednesday and remains to be going robust, and the fighters who make up the remainder of ESPN’s heavyweight high 10 common 35 years of age. All however one among them compete within the UFC.
Again in Emelianko’s day, it was up for debate whether or not the very best heavyweights could possibly be discovered within the UFC or Pleasure. So whereas Fedor did compete towards a number of elite contemporaries, he didn’t have the chance to cross paths with different greats. The MMA panorama is completely different right this moment. To stay UFC champion, Miocic should navigate the game’s most violently uneven seas, inhabited by unquestionably the very best heavyweights on the planet.
Saturday evening actually set Miocic aside. He had evened the rating with Cormier final summer time, and this weekend he took possession of the trilogy and tightly secured the UFC heavyweight division as his area.
It was Miocic’s evening, to make certain, however even he certainly would acknowledge that it was not his alone. That this was Cormier’s closing rodeo (until you imagine UFC president Dana White) can’t be ignored. “God bless him. He is having a child in October. God bless him with that — a wholesome child and an extended, glad life,” Miocic stated after the combat. “He is an incredible champion, an incredible ambassador.”
Some will body this closing chapter as DC as soon as once more falling simply wanting his final aim. It occurred years in the past within the NCAA wrestling event, when he completed second, and on the Olympics, the place his bid for a medal ended with a loss within the semifinals. It occurred each occasions he challenged Jon Jones for the UFC mild heavyweight belt. And now it has occurred in his closing journey contained in the Octagon. However pay attention to who it was that handed Cormier his solely MMA defeats: the best heavyweight of all time and the best mild heavyweight in historical past — possibly the very best fighter the game has ever seen. Ending in second place to them isn’t any indignity.
As Cormier was receiving the entire hosannas within the lead-up to this massive evening — he’s as loquacious as he’s likable, and he basked within the highlight — Miocic appeared comfy within the shadows. Throughout a 45-minute UFC information convention with the 2 heavyweights on Thursday, DC simply had 80% of the microphone time whereas the champ spoke sparingly, at occasions barely audibly. One factor Miocic did say was that he didn’t object, not even a little bit, to having the entire consideration go to his challenger.
“He can take all of it, man. It is all good. I do not thoughts it,” Miocic stated with a sly smile. “Good for him. I am simply going to hang around within the again.”
That is Stipe Miocic, a person who depends not on intelligent wordplay, letting his fists do his speaking. After Saturday evening, there are solely 4 phrases that matter: biggest of all time.