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Stipe Miocic is as consistent and successful a heavyweight champion as the UFC has ever seen.
By wrapping up his trilogy with a unanimous decision triumph over Daniel Cormier in the UFC 252 main event on Saturday night, the Strong Style Fight Team representative tied Randy Couture for the most victories in heavyweight title fights in the history of the Las Vegas-based promotion. Not to mention, Miocic already held the record for most successful title defenses in the sport’s most volatile division.
By taking two out of three from one of the sport’s most respected fighters, Miocic can lay claim to his place among the sport’s greatest heavyweights. While Miocic thinks his legacy is secure, he isn’t 100 percent sure that he’ll be viewed as the GOAT just yet.
“We’ll see on Monday,” Miocic said at the UFC 252 post-fight press conference. “Everyone’s going to change their opinion about it. I always get s--t on it seems like.
“Listen, I’m just happy to cement my legacy,” he added. “Everyone’s talking about legacy. Only reason I’m happy to cement my legacy is to show my daughter, if we have more kids, to show them that hard work pays off. Listen if you do something and you put your mind and effort into it. You do good things.”
Miocic controlled large portions of the fight in the clinch while largely negating his opponent’s vaunted wrestling. Cormier landed his lone takedown of the contest in Round 1.
“I actually started pretty good at the beginning of the fight,” Miocic said. “He took me down, but I got back up, and I was happy about it. He caught me off guard with a good front headlock. I wasn’t worried about it. He did good. He’s a good fighter and made me second-guess myself, so I had to make him self-guess himself.”
The Ohio-based firefighter appeared to be on the verge of a finish late in Round 2, when he dropped Cormier near the base of the fence, mounted his opponent and unloaded with ground-and-pound until “DC” was saved by the horn. With just a little more time, Miocic might’ve made it an early night.
“Yes, 100 percent I would have finished him,” Miocic said. “He was stumbling. Just like the last fight, in the second fight, in the fourth round, I had him in the same spot. I rushed in too fast. If I would have stepped back just a little bit, one step back, I think I would have caught him.
“He was [still rattled at the start of round 3], I could see it. That’s why I kind of pushed it a little bit. But he also caught me in the first round. I was trying to slip and he hit me in the back of the head. It was not intentional, just when he caught me I was like ‘whoa!’ and I looked up and I could still see, thank God.”
No matter where he currently stands in the heavyweight GOAT conversation, Miocic is well aware that he hasn’t achieved his success alone.
“I’m just happy where I’m at. I’ve done a lot but it wasn’t just me though. It was my coaches, my amazing wife, my family, my friends, they always supported me and backed me up,” he said. “I miss a lot of fun stuff, especially family stuff. It kills me inside missing a lot of stuff like that. It kills me.
“The graduation parties, the baptisms. I couldn’t go. It would kill me, but the best part is no one ever judged me. They always supported me and understood what I’m doing. If it wasn’t for the people around me that I surrounded myself with and my amazing family and my friends and my coaches and my teammates, I wouldn’t be here.”