It’s funny what they say about headlines that end in a question mark. Most of the time the answer to the proposed question will be no and in this case that tends to be my initial gut reaction. But that doesn’t mean that this is a topic that is without merit or one that shouldn’t be explored. In fact, it makes researching and finding the evidence for or against all the more intriguing. So let’s take a moment to really consider whether or not Stipe Miocic deserves the title of the greatest heavyweight the UFC has ever seen.
With his victory at UFC 211 over former champion Junior dos Santos we saw a Stipe Miocic who was hungry for the finish, hungry to prove that he first loss to the former heavyweight kingpin was simply just a bump in the road. During his UFC tenure, Stipe Miocic has lost to only two men, one being Stefan Struve and the other Junior dos Santos. In fact, these are the only two blemishes on the heavyweight champion’s resume. Every other match has seen him taking a pretty clear cut victory and as such demonstrating just how sharp a fighter Miocic is.
That said, it still does boggle the mind that Stefan Struve was able to best the champ, but that’s a case of been there done that and move on. Struve is a tough fight for anyone in the UFC heavyweight division, but he does have the tendency to stray away from game plans and get himself in big trouble. Yes, it was years ago and yes it was Miocic’s first main event, but still it just seems pretty interesting to me.
At the risk of sounding like a prick, I need you to hear me out.
Losing to Stefan Struve is by no means a reason to sulk. The man is a giant after all with some good skills. But I mention this loss to Struve because it’s the turning point that has made Miocic into the beast he is today, that and his only other loss coming at the hands of dos Santos. You see, after the Stefan Struve fight we saw Stipe Miocic evolve as a fighter inside the cage. Not only did he throw away the slugger mentality that he seemed to adopt in the earlier portion of his career, he became more well rounded in his approach to fights. After his loss to Struve we saw a Stipe Miocic that chose to utilize his wrestling in conjunction with his striking. He would set up his combination punching with both faked and honest takedown attempts. We saw him focus more on versatility rather than simply what boxing combination would be best for the finish. Frankly, we saw the birth of a future champion in taking that first devastating loss.
So the question remains, is Stipe Miocic the greatest heavyweight in UFC history? That really all depends on how you look at things. He has yet to face the wrecking ball Cain Velasquez and could miss the opportunity completely based on the rate of injury we see from the former champion. But even if he never faced Velasquez, considering the fact that he was able to best Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem during his UFC tenure makes you sit back and really wonder. The best heavyweights in the sports history are undoubtedly Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Nogueira, and Farbicio Werdum. Stipe Miocic handily defeated one name on that list under the UFC umbrella. That in itself adds weight to the argument that he’s the promotion’s greatest heavyweight.
Considering that the most times a UFC heavyweight belt has been defended is twice, it gives way to the argument that with a third title defense Stipe Miocic will unquestionably be the UFC’s greatest heavyweight champion. Until that day, everything is simply based on opinion.
Do you think Stipe Miocic is the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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