Saturday, October 1, 2022

Stipe Miocic: Heavyweight’s Odd Man Out

Some of the better fights in the heavyweight division are being made currently. Last month, former title challenger Derrick Lewis made for a good step-up fight against prospect Chris Daukaus. And this month, an undefeated challenger in Ciryl Gane will face the ever-so-explosive champion Francis Ngannou.

There’s a lot of interesting things happening at heavyweight, but something is missing. Rather, someone is missing: and that would be Stipe Miocic.

Those who watched the UFC from 2016 to 2020 will remember Miocic as a dominant force at heavyweight. He defended his belt three times in his first reign, making him the most successful heavyweight champ in the promotion’s history—out-performing anyone who held the title since its inception in 1997.

He suffered a setback in 2018 against Daniel Cormier, getting stopped in the first round by the former light heavyweight. But in a testament to his adversity, he returned a year later to regain his belt. He went four rounds with Cormier and finished him in their 2019 rematch. A year later, he beat “DC” again and put an end to their rivalry.

After Miocic’s brutal second-round knockout loss to Ngannou last year, he has been completely out of the heavyweight picture. And unfairly so. His absence from the scene has been felt—so much so that he has had to come out and deny that he is going into retirement.

Lewis recently mentioned he wants to face Miocic because he is “one of the best of all time” at heavyweight. A question could be posed about whether that fight is intriguing. However, that’s not the first question that comes to mind. Instead, we think, “What is the ‘greatest of all time’ doing on the sidelines?”

In 2022, Where Does Miocic Fit In The Heavyweight Picture?

First, let’s look back to the summer of 2021 for a moment. When surprised by the news of an interim title fight between Gane and Lewis, Miocic was “bothered” that the UFC didn’t come to him regarding the fight. However, he also mentioned he wasn’t sure he would accept the fight if he was offered it due to his wife being pregnant at the time.

So sure, there was some justification for him possibly being left out of the interim title fight even though it might have been fair for them to at least approach him. But let’s take a step back: should he even be in the interim title bout? Even that may be a step down for him. He is one of the most successful heavyweights in UFC history. His loss—no matter how bad it was—shouldn’t write off his years of wins at a high level.

Miocic Should Get The Title Fight

Stipe MIocic, Francis Ngannou

Some may criticize that Miocic feels he deserves a fight against Ngannou. However, there’s more than enough reason for him to get that fight.

If his pure dominance in the division for numerous years doesn’t give the idea of another fight against Ngannou legs to stand on, there’s another fact that does. It’s that Miocic beat Ngannou before. He went the distance with him in early 2018, walking away with a scorecard win to retain his belt. It can’t be forgotten that a fight between them wouldn’t be a rematch; it would be a trilogy with an even score.

It could be said that Ngannou’s win over Miocic was quite decisive in early 2021. But the consistent results from Miocic as a champion, plus his older win against Ngannou, offers a good enough case for him to get a fight.

The lack of buzz around Miocic coupled with the fact that he hasn’t been mentioned by the UFC recently feels out of place in contrast to where he stands in the recent history of heavyweight MMA. It feels like a failure of the entire system from the highest, most influential names in the sport down to the casual viewer that Miocic is currently being forgotten in the divisional picture. Then again, maybe that can change in the new year.

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