At UFC 211, Stipe Miocic avenged his only loss in the past five years, a close decision to Junior dos Santos from back in 2014. This time there was no question as to who deserved to win: Miocic knocked out dos Santos 2:22 into the first round, earning him his second heavyweight title defense.
Two defenses may not seem a lot, especially considering Joanna Jedrzejczyk just defended her women’s strawweight belt earlier that night for the fifth time and Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson is up to 10 defenses, tied with Anderson Silva for most of all time. But due to the one punch one kill nature of the heavyweight division, no champion has ever defended the heavyweight belt more than twice. Stipe now joins a very select few who have managed to get up to two. That list includes Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, and Tim Sylvia.
If Stipe wins again, he becomes the first, and at that point it becomes difficult to overlook the relatively quiet blue collar Ohio man as not just the baddest man on the planet (the label historically assigned to the heavyweight champ), but one of the best heavyweights in UFC history.
Stipe has done this with little fanfare. When he knocked out Fabricio Werdum to take the heavyweight title, many figured he was just a placeholder for one of the more jacked and popular heavyweights to replace. But first Alistair Overeem tried and failed, with Stipe jackhammering his head through the canvas at the end of the first round. And now Junior dos Santos has suffered a similar fate in half the time. Miocic’s last four opponents have all been put to sleep in the first round, yet still he doesn’t seem to get the credit he’s due.
That credit should be apparent just looking at the list of opponents he’s faced and beaten. Roy Nelson. Mark Hunt. Gabriel Gonzaga. Andrei Arlovski. Fabricio Werdum. Alistair Overeem. And now Junior dos Santos. The only names in the top ten that Stipe hasn’t beaten down yet are Cain Velasquez, Francis Ngannou, Derrick Lewis, and Travis Browne. And at this point, we expect Vegas oddsmakers would give Miocic the advantage against every opponent.
We’re hoping this win over Junior dos Santos cements Stipe Miocic in the eyes of casual and hardcore fans as more than just a placeholder champion. Of course, there will be those who will always argue that … unless Miocic manages to do what no heavyweight has managed to do and defend the belt successfully a third time. After his performance at UFC 211, we’re thinking he could. But regardless, he’s done enough to put himself at the top of the heavyweight division, in the elite circle of bad, bad men who are capable of finishing anyone that they face and defeating them with one hard well timed punch.