Stipe Miocic, the UFC’s Unlikeliest Champ, Nears Heavyweight History

Stipe Miocic, the UFC’s Unlikeliest Champ, Nears Heavyweight History

The baddest man on the planet is an American everyman, a Rust Belt resident, part-time firefighter and soft-spoken gentleman who fights out of a town named “Independence.”

The baddest man on the planet arrived as a complete surprise. A collegiate baseball player who had major league dreams, Stipe Miocic would not have been anyone’s pick to become an all-time heavyweight great when he made his MMA debut at age 27.

Yet, seven years later, here we are with Miocic on the cusp of history. After Saturday night’s first-round starching of ex-champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 211 in Dallas, he has defended the UFC heavyweight championship twice.

That may not seem like much, but if he is able to do it just one more time, he will stand alone with the most heavyweight title defenses in promotional history.

Saturday night’s work was shockingly simple. Dos Santos has been beaten before, even finished before, but never so decisively. All it took was a Miocic right hand behind the ear and a few cursory piston-like left hands on the mat, and that was that. It took all of two minutes, 22 seconds, far different from their first go-around, which took the entire 25-minute allotment of time.

Brandon Gibson

Is @stipemiocicufc the greatest heavyweight ever? I think so.

May 14, 2017 at 4:57:36 AM GMT

Between then and now, the growth pattern and learning curve have slanted strongly in Miocic’s favor. There were lessons to be learned, and they were absorbed, drilled and enacted Saturday.

His hands have gotten faster and more accurate. He’s better able to pace himself. His confidence has increased to the point that after the win, he even allowed himself a rare though modest boast.

“I am the best in the world,” he told UFC analyst Joe Rogan moments after the win. “I’m the heavyweight champ.”

Rogan followed up by asking what the best in the world wanted to do next. What kind of challenge was upcoming?

“Right now, it’s my kitchen,” Miocic said. “I have to remodel my kitchen when I get home, so that’s what I’m worried about right now.”

Thinking about the kitchen?…