Two years ago, UFC heavyweight champion and Cleveland native Stipe Miocic took part in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Finals championship parade, as LeBron James led his team to an improbable comeback against the historically great Golden State Warriors. Since then, Miocic has defended his title a record-setting three straight times, while LeBron has been on the losing end of two lopsided Finals against the Warriors juggernaut.
Just a few days ago, James left the Cavaliers in free agency and signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, making it the second time that LeBron has left Cleveland. When he joined the Miami Heat in 2010, having failed to win a championship for his home team, fan reaction was mostly angry betrayal. This time around, it’s markedly different, and Miocic is among those who isn’t bothered by “The King” moving out West.
“It is what it is, I’m not mad at all,” Miocic said at a media luncheon on Monday. “It’s best for him, whatever he wants. It’s his legacy, not mine. I’m not his dad.
“Listen, nothing but the best for him. He brought a title back [to Cleveland] like he said he would. Can’t be mad at the guy. It’s whatever he wants. It’s his decision, not mine. At least he didn’t wait until the end like he did the last time. At least he did it right away.”
Cleveland has been the butt of jokes for decades, as the Cavaliers’ title win was the city’s first major team sports championship for the city since 1964. With LeBron gone, it’s expected that the Cavaliers will be once again one of the NBA’s worst teams. Miocic isn’t worried, though, as Cleveland’s other sports teams could pick up the slack.
“The [NFL’s] Browns are making moves, the [first-place in the AL Central] Indians are playing well … it’s not just about the Cavs anymore.”
Miocic is set to fight light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 on July 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can watch the full media luncheon at the top of the page, courtesy of MMA Fighting.