One thing I’ve always lauded pre-champion Stipe Miocic for was that he took on all-comers. Whether it was against a streaking Andrei Arlovski or the ever-dangerous Mark Hunt, he fought everybody and won convincingly.
So when he stepped up to challenge then-champion Fabricio Werdum in front of a frenzied Brazilian crowd of 45,000, there were no surprises there.
Now, remember, this fight happened in 2016. It was a time when Werdum was widely regarded as a future heavyweight GOAT. But that didn’t matter to good old Stipe, who exuded a champion’s swagger the moment he walked out.
Miocic remained composed throughout the nearly three minutes of action. He comfortably took all of Werdum’s flurries and fired back with his own combos.
But that finishing sequence will always be a classic. Werdum aggressively coming forward and Miocic landing a flush right hook counter while on his backpedal. Hometown hero falls flat on his face as the crowd watches in stunned silence. Miocic climbs over the fence, embraces his team, and screams out, ‘I’m a world champ!’ Priceless.
This Saturday at UFC 260, Miocic will attempt to keep his Baddest Man on the Planet title against Francis Ngannou, which is obviously far from an easy task. And seeing the challenger’s improvements, this rematch should surpass their first encounter three years ago.
As a bonus, here’s a more entertaining post-fight commentary from the great Bill Burr.