Stipe Miocic is the most accomplished UFC heavyweight champion in the history of the promotion, but as soon as Daniel Cormier beat him in the first round at UFC 226 last summer, Miocic was an afterthought. From starring in Modelo commercials to being the talk of the UFC’s greatest heavyweights, when Miocic lost to Cormier, he disappeared from the spotlight but never stayed quiet.
During Miocic’s time away from competition, he became a father and he took some much-deserved time off, but he didn’t take his sights off getting his belt back. Following Daniel Cormier’s win over Miocic, the UFC and Cormier were all-in on a potential future matchup between Cormier and former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. The wrestling backgrounds of both fighters and their resume as heavyweight champions, made a potential fight all the talk in the heavyweight division, and their encounter after UFC 226, created the fireworks needed to promote it through the media.
For all the hype, the shoving, and the entertaining one-liner quotes the fight world won’t forget, Stipe Miocic never stopped calling for his rematch. Many argued that after Cormier defeated Miocic in the first round, that the former champion from Cleveland, Ohio didn’t deserve a rematch, but he never kept his mouth shut about it. Breaking out of his character and engaging with Cormier several times on social media, Miocic would go as far as to blast Cormier for reportedly turning down a rematch before he defended his title against Derrick Lewis at UFC 231 in November.
On Tuesday, the MMA world got news that Lesnar was retiring, putting off the dream matchup between he and Cormier, and nearly a full calendar year later, Stipe Miocic’s patience has paid off. ESPN was first to report that after Lesnar retired, a rematch between Miocic and Cormier was being targeted for UFC 241 in August, currently scheduled for August 17 in Anaheim, California.
The criticism may follow, because fans didn’t get the dream matchup that they waited around for between Lesnar and Cormier, and that’s okay, because sometimes, in the case of Stipe Miocic, you’re much more than what happened in your last fight.
While no one wants to be on the losing end of a first-round knockout, Miocic holds the record for most heavyweight title defenses as the champion and although he wasn’t the biggest promotional machine for the UFC, his wins speak for themselves. Defeating Fabricio Werdum to earn the title, then go on to defend it against Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, and Francis Ngannou has to account for something in Miocic’s career, and his patience will now be rewarded.
He certainly could’ve taken fights against some of the top heavyweight contenders like Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis, or even a rematch with Ngannou, but Miocic let Lesnar and Cormier build up a dream that will seemingly remain a fairy tale.
There’s no telling what will come from the rematch between Miocic and Cormier from a results standpoint, but in a time where the fighters who talk get rewarded, Miocic spoke up when needed and waited patiently. While Brock Lesnar was busy in his WWE career and Daniel Cormier was continuing to cement his legacy defending his title and continuing his broadcasting career, fans waited, but wait no more.
The trash talk may not be there like it could have been been between Lesnar and “DC”, but one thing is for sure, a former champion looking to get his title back against one of the sport’s greatest fighters ever, is a storyline everyone can get behind.
There was no WWE storyline needed for Stipe Miocic to get his rematch and while he was more outspoken than normal, there’s a reward for Cleveland’s own showing true patience and self-belief rather than force himself into a fight that was not a title fight, where anything could happened.
The fight still needs to take place but the stage is set for Miocic and Cormier to run it back, which in turn means Brock Lesnar can go back to doing whatever he feels like doing outside of teasing the UFC, and the heavyweight division can get back to business.