Heavyweight champion Stipe Moicic set the record for the most successful title defenses by a heavyweight in the promotion’s history on Saturday when he defeated Francis Ngannou in the UFC 220 main event. The 35-year-old Ohio native has defended the belt three consecutive times.
He dominated Ngannou, but did something after the fight that raised some eyebrows. Instead of having UFC president Dana White place the belt around his waist, which is customary, Miocic took the belt from White and handed it to one of his coaches to wrap it around him.
Miocic has been at odds with the organization over contract negotiations since late 2016. Leading up to Saturday’s fight, Miocic suggested that the fight promotion wanted Ngannou to win. White denied Mioicic’s allegations, but admitted that the two have “butted heads.”
“Stipe is one of the nicest guys in the world. I like this guy. We’ve butted heads professionally as far as business goes in the last year and a half, but other than that, he’s a super nice guy. But I butt heads with everybody at some point professionally at one point or another. I don’t wish anybody to win or lose,” White said in an interview on Wednesday.
Miocic was asked about handing his coach the belt during the UFC 220 Post Fight Press Conference. His answer centered around respect and may have implied that White doesn’t respect him.
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“He’s my dude (his coach). That dude respects me and I respect him. End of story,” said Miocic.
Later he was asked if he thought that Dana White respected him. “I don’t know. I don’t really care,” he responded. “I’m not worried about repairing anything. I don’t know. I called him out when he was talking about we were butting heads. I called him out on that. That’s pretty funny. He said, ‘what are you talking about?’ He denied it.”
The win over Ngannou strengthened Miocic’s leverage in any contract discussions. He’s the heavyweight champion setting records with his success inside the Octagon.