A Brief History
On August 19, 2019, Stipe Miocic, a heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter fighting in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) promotion, is recuperating from his hard fought regaining of the UFC Heavyweight title from Daniel Cormier, another UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight fighting legend.
Miocic, a charismatic firefighter and rescue technician/paramedic from suburban Cleveland, Ohio, had won the UFC Heavyweight Championship in in 2016, by knocking out reigning champion Fabricio Werdum in the first round. Stipe went on to beat highly regarded challenger Alister Overeem, also in 2016, and also with an impressive first round knockout. (Overeem has claimed victories over a total of 5 men that have held the UFC Heavyweight Championship.) Next up for the big Croatian American was Junior Dos Santos, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and one of the 2 men that had previously beaten Stipe (in 2014). Stipe took care of business in this second defense of his title, again stopping his fearsome opponent in the first round!
On January 20, 2018, Miocic faced a really, really scary opponent in Francis Ngannou, a Cameroonian knockout artist boasting an 11-1 record, including defeats of former UFC champs and having the hardest recorded punch of any fighter ever. The Cameroonian/French fighter was looking to seize the Heavyweight Title by force, and many fans felt sorry for Stipe having to face such devastating blows. Stipe faced the challenge and defeated Francis by unanimous decision over the course of the entire 5 round fight, winning an unprecedented third defense of his UFC Heavyweight title. Having attained UFC immortality with his run of 4 Heavyweight Championship fights, Miocic was set to defend his title against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier.
A terrific fighter himself, Cormier had not only won the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, he had also defended his championship 3 times successfully just like Miocic. Cormier went after Miocic in a bid to hold the top 2 weight class championship titles at the same time, something never done before. On July 7, 2016, Cormier upset Miocic when he caught the big Clevelander in the first round, knocking out Stipe and taking the Heavyweight Title. Cormier then cemented his hold on the Heavyweight crown by defending his title against Derrick Lewis on November 3, 2018, choking out his opponent in the second round.
Meanwhile, Miocic had spurned any fight other than a rematch against Cormier in a crusade to regain his title. After not fighting (other than training) for over a year, Stipe Miocic once again faced Daniel Cormier in a UFC Heavyweight title fight, this time with Cormier as Champion and Miocic as Challenger. On August 17, 2019, the long awaited rematch took place, with both fighters fighting an epic battle, both men dealing and absorbing terrific punishment. An Olympic wrestler, Cormier was urged by his corner men to take the fight to the ground, but Cormier was enjoying success fighting on his feet and stubbornly kept the fight standing. Winning the fight through the first 3 rounds, though taking his share of punishment, Cormier was finally overwhelmed by the superior endurance of the younger (37 versus 40) Miocic. Stipe returned the favor to Daniel by knocking the Champion out in the 4th round, regaining his lost Heavyweight Title.
In mixed martial arts (MMA) there has not been any long periods of dominance by a heavyweight fighter as there has in boxing (notably Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and the Klitschko brothers). The UFC, the premier fighting promotion in MMA, has had a veritable revolving door at the Heavyweight Championship level except for Stipe Miocic. At 37 years old, can Stipe win another defense or 2 before losing his crown? History says no, but Stipe has beaten History and everyone else before! We eagerly await to see if he can do it again.
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For more information, please see…
Jamieson, Joel. Ultimate MMA Conditioning. 8WeeksOut Media, 2009.
Snowden, Jonathan. Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting. ECW Press, 2008.
Wikipedia Contributors. Focus On: 40 Most Popular Ultimate Fighting Championship Champions: Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, Amanda Nunes, Jon Jones, Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier, … Johnson (fighter), Tyron Woodley, etc. Focus On, 2018.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA of UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in the house for World Series Game 2, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.