Stipe Miocic is arguably the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of all time. The Cleveland native, who also serves his community as a firefighter, holds the UFC record for most title defenses in the division. We look at how Stipe accomplished this record.
The lineage of the UFC heavyweight championship traces back to the Superfight title. The title was created in the UFC’s earliest days as a way to promote fights between stars outside of what had turned into a rigid tournament format.
Mark Coleman was the first-ever UFC heavyweight champion when he defeated Dan Severn at UFC 12. Since then, the title has changed hands with a lot of frequency. Never before has a heavyweight champion managed three consecutive title defenses until Stipe Miocic.
Titles are everything in the modern age of the UFC. While the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Demetrious Johnson, and Jose Aldo have gone and set title record defenses, the same cannot be said about the heavyweights. The hard-hitting power possessed in the 265 division has seen the belt change multiple hands.
GSP once said, “It’s hard to become a champion, it’s even harder to stay champion.”
Those words hold true at the heavyweight division, with no less than 19 different champions since UFC 12. With three consecutive title defenses to his name, Miocic accomplished something the likes of Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, and Cain Velasquez could not.
Having joined the UFC in 2011, it took five years for the new UFC heavyweight king to get his first title opportunity. At UFC 198, Miocic would face heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. The Brazilian was coming off becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion after submitting ‘sea-level’ Cain Velasquez in Mexico City.
Stipe was coming off two consecutive TKOs over Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski. Werdum would enter the fight with a lot of confidence, but the result would not go his way. As ‘Vai Cavalo’ pushed the pace, Miocic clipped him and sent him crashing to the floor. As a result, he became the new UFC heavyweight champion.
Miocic would have his first title defense against former K1 champion Alistair Overeem at UFC 203. The Dutch star was on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Arlovski, Dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Stefan Struve.
Overeem would start strong, as he dropped Miocic to the floor and locked on a guillotine. The fight would go back and forth, however, the result would be the same. Miocic secured another first-round KO after taking ‘The Reem’ down and laying him out with solid ground and pound.
Miocic would next face the former champion, Junior Dos Santos, in his second title defense. Dos Santos already held a win over the champion and was coming off a unanimous decision win over Ben Rothwell.
They kept the fight on the feet, with Dos Santos landing powerful leg kicks. However, that would not deter the champion as he kept constant pressure, walking Dos Santos down every time. Miocic would exact his revenge as he sent Dos Santos down to the mat after a wicked right hook. With his second title defense in the books, Miocic found himself on the precipice of greatness.
In arguably what was Miocic’s toughest ever title defense till that time, he would go up against Francis Ngannou. ‘The Predator’ had been setting the heavyweight division on fire since joining the promotion. Ngannou was coming off six wins out of six in his UFC career, with the last four being devastating first-round finishes.
There was so much hype behind Ngannou with UFC president Dana White calling him the hardest puncher he had ever seen. However, the wily veteran Miocic would negate Ngannou’s power with his close pressure. This took away the power ’The Predator’ possessed as they fought most of the fight with Ngannou on his back.
Miocic would secure a dominant unanimous decision victory to set the record for most title defenses in UFC heavyweight history. This would arguably place Miocic as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Having already cleaned out the division, Miocic would welcome UFC’s light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, up to 265 pounds. However, things would not go his way with DC securing a first-round KO to become a ‘Champ-Champ’ alongside Conor McGregor and Amanda Nunes.
Miocic would get back his title in the immediate rematch as he used a brilliant game plan. Unlike the first fight, Miocic kept the distance, which allowed him to land his shots on the shorter Daniel Cormier. He recorded a fourth-round TKO as he took out DC with heavy shots to the body to win back his heavyweight title.
Miocic would then accept a third fight with DC to complete the trilogy with the score tied at 1-1. The Ohio native would once again prove his dominance as he recorded a unanimous decision win to send Cormier into retirement.
Stipe now looks to be set for his second fight against Ngannou. While the fight is yet to be announced, ‘The Predator’ seems to have got himself back in title contention, with UFC president Dana White, acknowledging Ngannou would be next for the heavyweight king. Can he put together a repeat three-peat?
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