The streets of Cleveland, Ohio have a rough reputation, particularly over the recent decades as industry in the Midwestern city has dwindled. For UFC Heavyweight star Stipe Miocic, those same streets have helped mould him into one of the best Heavyweight fighters in MMA history.
Stipe Miocic Fighter Bio
- Weight class: Heavyweight (265 lbs)
- Nationality / birthplace: Euclid, Ohio, United States
- Fighting style: Striking (boxing) and wrestling
- Age: Born 19 August 1982
- Height: 1.93m
- UFC debut: October 8, 2011 (UFC 136)
Stipe Miocic Wrestling Background
Born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid to Croatian parents, Miocic proved to be physically gifted early on in life, having played baseball, football and wrestling while he was in high school. He continued wrestling and playing baseball during his university years, and even received interest from some Major League Baseball teams as a young adult.
His wrestling abilities were also noticed by some on the local Cleveland MMA scene, having been asked to help Heavyweight fighters in the wrestling aspect of their training in the mid-2000s. Always keen to try new things, however, Stipe turned to boxing and soon became a Golden Gloves champion on the Ohio circuit.
However, coaches and training partners realised that Miocic’s striking and wrestling prowess could lead to a promising MMA career and it wasn’t long before the Croatian-American was once again focused on the sport.
Stipe Miocic MMA Debut and Early Years
He made his professional MMA debut in February 2010, which lasted just 17 seconds as he won via TKO.
By the end of 2010, Miocic had compiled a solid 4-0 record, three of those being in the Ohio-based NAAFS organisation. He became the NAAFS Heavyweight champion in 2011 after he beat Bobby Brents in the second round of the title fight.
With a belt around his waist and a flawless 6-0 professional record, it was not long before the UFC came calling with a contract offer. Miocic made his UFC debut in October 2011 on the prelims of UFC 136, where he methodically beat renowned brawler Joey Beltran in a unanimous decision victory.
The Beginning of a UFC Dynasty
He then won two stoppage victories in a row inside the Octagon after he beat British Heavyweight Philip De Fries and Muay Thai standout Shane Del Rosario, having given both fighters their first professional MMA losses.
Miocic was rewarded for his efforts by being given a Main Event matchup against Dutch UFC veteran Stefan Struve in England. While Miocic started out well, arguably having beaten Struve in the first round, the Skyscraper rallied hard in the second round and gave Miocic his first ever MMA loss.
Some pundits began to doubt Miocic’s ability to be a top MMA fighter after the loss, and it appeared the hype train behind the Ohio native had derailed. Miocic gained a great opportunity to bounce back in his next fight, however, as he was put up against hard hitting heavyweight Roy Nelson on short notice.
Stipe Miocic as a Top 5 Contender
Despite Nelson being a huge favourite in the fight, Miocic executed a smart game plan of constant movement and accurate striking en route to a 30-27 unanimous decision victory. Victories against Brazilians Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabio Maldonado followed, and Miocic was given a crack at the top five after he was paired against former UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos.
It was a match that showed Miocic had well and truly improved through his UFC tenure. He had Junior Dos Santos in major trouble in the first round, and easily won the first two rounds against the Brazilian. However, Miocic faded in the final three rounds and Dos Santos took advantage, taking over the fight and ultimately taking a narrow decision victory.
Watch the video replay of Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos
The Pathway to Becoming UFC Champion
Despite the loss, he was given another Main Event match in his following fight, which came against Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 65. Although Miocic largely fought his previous UFC fights on the feet, he displayed his strong wrestling abilities in the Hunt fight, having taken the New Zealander down at will and punishing him with ground and pound to take an emphatic TKO victory.
A 54 second TKO victory against Andrei Arlovski soon followed, and it was subsequently announced that Miocic would face Fabricio Werdum for the Heavyweight title. Again, Miocic was widely seen as an underdog in the title fight, but he stunned many in the MMA record when he flattened Werdum midway through the first round to claim the UFC belt.
It was a performance that showed the world the calmness, patience and technique that is required of a champion. Werdum constantly pressured Miocic early on in the fight, and while lesser fighters may have been overwhelmed, Miocic displayed great movement and landed a perfectly timed punch to knock the Brazilian out cold.
An Undefeated UFC Title Reign
For the first time in his UFC career, Miocic fought in his hometown of Cleveland for his first Heavyweight title offence, which came against Alistair Overeem at UFC 203. Although he faced some adversity from the hard-hitting Overeem early on in the fight, Miocic was able to take him to the floor and quickly finish the Dutchman with ground and pound to defend his title.
Miocic then equalled the record for the amount of UFC Heavyweight title defences and avenged his most recent loss by quickly dispatching Junior Dos Santos at UFC 211. He then broke the record for most consecutive UFC Heavyweight title defences after he beat heavily hyped prospect Francis Ngannou at UFC 220.
In stark contrast to his quick victories in his previous defences, Miocic displayed stunning game planning, patience, cardio and grappling as he grinded Ngannou to a one-sided unanimous decision victory. The victory truly put Miocic on the map of top all-time heavyweights, with many pundits pointing to his title defence record as proof that he is the best Heavyweight fighter of all time.
Watch the video replay of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
Stipe Miocic MMA and UFC Fight Record
|Jan 20, 2018||UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou||Francis Ngannou||Win||Decision – Unanimous|
|May 13, 2017||UFC 211: Miocic vs. dos Santos 2||Junior dos Santos||Win||KO/TKO|
|Sep 10, 2016||UFC 203: Miocic vs. Overeem||Alistair Overeem||Win||KO/TKO|
|May 14, 2016||UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic||Fabricio Werdum||Win||KO/TKO|
|Jan 2, 2016||UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit||Andrei Arlovski||Win||KO/TKO|
|May 9, 2015||UFC Fight Night: Miocic vs. Hunt||Mark Hunt||Win||KO/TKO|
|Dec 13, 2014||UFC on Fox 13: Dos Santos vs. Miocic||Junior dos Santos||Loss||Decision – Unanimous|
|May 31, 2014||UFC – TUF Brazil 3 Finale||Fabio Maldonado||Win||KO/TKO|
|Jan 25, 2014||UFC on FOX 10: Henderson vs. Thomson||Gabriel Gonzaga||Win||Decision – Unanimous|
|Jun 15, 2013||UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson||Roy Nelson||Win||Decision – Unanimous|
|Sep 29, 2012||UFC on FUEL TV 5: Struve vs. Miocic||Stefan Struve||Loss||KO/TKO|
|May 26, 2012||UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir||Shane Del Rosario||Win||KO/TKO|
|Feb 15, 2012||UFC on Fuel TV 1: Ellenberger vs. Sanchez||Phil de Fries||Win||KO/TKO|
|Oct 8, 2011||UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3||Joey Beltran||Win||Decision – Unanimous|
|Jun 4, 2011||NAAFS: Fight Night in the Flats 7||Bobby Brents||Win||Submission (Leg Kick)|
|Apr 16, 2011||NAAFS: Caged Vengeance 9||William Penn||Win||KO|
|Dec 4, 2010||NAAFS: Night of Champions 2010||Gregory Maynard||Win||TKO|
|Aug 28, 2010||NAAFS: Rock N Rumble 4||Jeremy Holm||Win||KO|
|May 21, 2010||Moosin MMA: Sylvia vs. Pudzianowski||Paul Barry||Win||TKO|
|Feb 20, 2010||NAAFS: Caged Fury 9||Corey Mullis||Win||TKO|
At just 35 years of age, the potential for a few more years of continued dominance is very much there. It was not an easy road to the top for Miocic, but he learned from his losses, trained hard and showed superb game planning skills, all of which have helped him become the most accomplished UFC Heavyweight champion in history.