Despite its main event billing, UFC Fight Night 65's main event clash between Stipe Miocic and Mark Hunt was a rather dull affair. In what was supposed to define a promising contender among the UFC's crop of heavyweight hopefuls, UFC Fight Night: Miocic vs. Hunt churned out another lifeless cog in the 205+ lbs. machine.
He stood toe-to-toe for 25 minutes in a Rocky Balboa affair with former champ Junior Dos Santos and outclassed Mark Hunt on Saturday night, yet there's still something lacking with Stipe Miocic. He made mincemeat of the Super Samoan, battered the former K-1 champ from pillar to post, turned MMA's Cinderella story into a Steven Spielberg Sloth Goonies production (Hey you guys!), and yet, we're still not convinced of his divisional threat.
The 32-year-old Croatian-American ascendant sports an impressive 13-2 professional record, possessing boxing savvy hands and a knack for NCAA division I wrestling. He's conquered divisional hopefuls Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga and now Mark Hunt, but the top-ranked contender is still no match for the heavyweight elite. He's still no threat to 240 lb. stud Cain Velasquez.
While the aspiring hopeful earned his spot as a future challenger to Velasquez's throne, his grinding performance on Saturday evening will leave the Mexican-American champ licking his chops at a future championship defense down the line. He did everything Velasquez does...except worse and at a slower pace.
Miocic struck with Hunt, wrestled with Hunt, and ground-and-pounded Hunt, yet he did none to the caliber of the relentless Velasquez. Most of the contest with Mark Hunt was spent against the cage and in the New Zealander's half-guard. Miocic landed a barrage of half-hearted pitter-patter shots to Hunt's dome, eventually deforming the 41-year-old's face into something resembling a Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth prop.
He hammered away at the Samoan bull for 23 minutes, but there was no sense of urgency, no venom to his strikes. The championship aspirant was content to wear Hunt down in half guard and against the cage with no ambition to advance position or truly finish the fight. Not once did Miocic secure full mount, not once did Miocic look to stamp his authority in the Octagon with a fight-ending strike or submission.
Even in the post-fight interview the 32-year-old seemed uninspired as a true championship contender when pressed by Jon Anik. "We'll see what the UFC wants to do with me right now", he said. "I just wanna hang out with my family, my friends and my coaches," he said. Those aren't the words of the fearless Dothraki warrior we'd hope would emerge from Fight Night's main event. No real desire or hunger for promotional gold, yet the #4 ranked heavyweight will be billed as Cain Velasquez's/Fabricio Werdum's biggest threat in the near future.
The problem isn't just with Miocic, it's with the UFC's heavyweight landscape as a whole. Junior Dos Santos's Octagon value has plummeted since his back-to-back thrashings at the hands of Velasquez, the underdog story of Mark Hunt has run its course, and now we're left with the not so inspired Stipe Miocic.
Perhaps Alistair Overeem can inject some life into the division and live up to his former billing as the crusher of heavyweight men, perhaps Daniel Cormier will return to the 205+ lbs. fold after his light-heavyweight clash with Anthony Johnson...perhaps not. The UFC needs something, anything to revitalize their heavyweight battleground, but that something most certainly isn't Stipe Miocic.